Microsoft on the Issues https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues News and perspectives on legal, public policy and citizenship topics Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:12:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 Microsoft Azure IP Advantage: A closer look at the ‘patent pick’ https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/02/16/microsoft-azure-ip-advantage-closer-look-patent-pick/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 19:00:10 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=50178 A few days ago we launched Microsoft Azure IP Advantage, a new program to help Azure customers reduce their intellectual property risk in the cloud so they can focus on innovating.  We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to the program so far and have quickly found fans for all three elements: expanded indemnification, the “patent pick” and the springing license benefit. One aspect that has received a lot of attention Read more »

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A few days ago we launched Microsoft Azure IP Advantage, a new program to help Azure customers reduce their intellectual property risk in the cloud so they can focus on innovating.  We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to the program so far and have quickly found fans for all three elements: expanded indemnification, the “patent pick” and the springing license benefit.

One aspect that has received a lot of attention and some questions is the patent pick, especially as some patent analysts publish reports that validate the strength of this feature.

The basic offer of the patent pick is straightforward; Microsoft will make available a list of 10,000 patents (download here) that qualified Microsoft Azure customers can choose from to help them defend against patent lawsuits brought by operating companies against their cloud service offerings that run on Azure. We chose the patents on the list to broadly represent a large and robust subset of our overall portfolio when viewed through a technology, geography and life-of-patent lens with a slightly higher percentage of cloud-oriented patents included for good measure.

How good are the patents? Two leading independent patent consulting firms, TechInsights and HighTech Solutions, studied the portfolio recently and issued reports, found here and here. TechInsights says that if the cloud-oriented piece of the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage patent portfolio were owned by one company it would be the third best in the world, trailing only Microsoft’s entire portfolio (ranked #1) and IBM’s entire portfolio (ranked #2). Similarly, HighTech Solutions concluded that the Azure Advantage portfolio contains “many patents and patent applications that cover technologies critical to the future evolution of Cloud infrastructure, services, and security.”

So, why did we create Azure IP Advantage? The answer is simply that we talked to developers, large and small, and they told us that as they would value this offering as a feature of Microsoft Azure. Our customers are looking to develop new apps and services of their own and they want their cloud partners to help them smartly manage risk. This is why Microsoft has developed a broad, trusted cloud framework and why we developed this Azure IP Advantage program – it’s about customer needs.

Getting a right to pick a patent from this portfolio is obviously helpful when one is confronting a lawsuit, but there is a broader benefit that we see as significant for a very broad array of Azure customers who might never have such a need. And that is this: mere access to the patent pick right provides a significant deterrent benefit for customers even if they don’t ever need to pick a patent. Companies thinking about suing Azure customers will have to pause and think twice about it because those customers will have access to the patents in this portfolio to defend themselves.

There is another deterrent effect in the way the program is designed as well. Our program terms state that in order to have access to the patents, a customer must confirm that it has not sued anyone else for patent infringement relating to cloud services running on Azure for a period of at least two years. This term creates an incentive for companies to refrain from suing for patent infringement in the Azure ecosystem because they know they would have to forego the patent pick benefit for a period of time if they were to assert. At the same time, our terms do not take IP rights away from our customers – it’s simply a benefit of the patent pick that is at risk of a company decides to sue.

To learn more, hear about Microsoft Azure IP Advantage from some of our early preview customers and see how Azure IP Advantage works, see our animated video. If you’re an Azure customer, you can learn more here.

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Get GDPR compliant with the Microsoft Cloud https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/02/15/get-gdpr-compliant-with-the-microsoft-cloud/ Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:00:27 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49635 The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most significant change to European Union (EU) privacy law in two decades. The GDPR requires that organizations respect and protect personal data – no matter where it is sent, processed or stored. Complying with the GDPR will not be easy. To simplify your path to compliance, Microsoft is committing to be GDPR compliant across our cloud services when enforcement begins on Read more »

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The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most significant change to European Union (EU) privacy law in two decades. The GDPR requires that organizations respect and protect personal data – no matter where it is sent, processed or stored. Complying with the GDPR will not be easy. To simplify your path to compliance, Microsoft is committing to be GDPR compliant across our cloud services when enforcement begins on May 25, 2018.

GDPR is part of our holistic cloud compliance investments

We are committed to our principles of cloud trust – across security, privacy, transparency and compliance. We have a broad portfolio of cloud services that address the rigorous security and privacy demands of our customers, who comprise over 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies. As the GDPR enforcement begins, here is what else you can expect from us:

  • Technology that meets your needs – You can leverage our broad portfolio of enterprise cloud services to meet your GDPR obligations for areas including deletion, rectification, transfer of, access to and objection to processing of personal data. Furthermore, you can count on our extensive global partner ecosystem for expert support as you use Microsoft technologies.
  • Contractual commitments – We are standing behind you through contractual commitments for our cloud services, including timely security support and notifications in accordance with the new GDPR requirements. In March 2017, our customer licensing agreements for Microsoft cloud services will include commitments to be GDPR compliant when enforcement begins.
  • Sharing our experience – We will share Microsoft’s GDPR compliance journey so you can adapt what we have learned to help you craft the best path forward for your organization.

While Microsoft is committed to helping you successfully comply with the GDPR, it is important to recognize that compliance is a shared responsibility. New requirements – like greater data access and deletion rules, risk assessment procedures, a Data Protection Officer role for many organizations and data breach notification processes – will mean changes for your organization. When it comes to GDPR compliance, it’s not just European organizations that are affected, but also those outside of the EU who process data in connection with the offering of goods and services to, or monitoring the behavior of, EU residents. As such, it’s important to understand your obligations related to GDPR regardless of where your organization resides.

It will take time, tools, processes and expertise for you to comply with the GDPR. To do this, you need to make changes to your privacy and data management practices. And failure to do so could prove costly – as companies that do not meet the requirements could face reputational harm and substantial fines of 20 million euros, or 4 percent of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater.

The Microsoft Cloud can help

With the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings of any cloud service provider, the Microsoft Cloud is here to support your compliance initiatives. Our commitment to privacy is proven by our actions. Microsoft was the first enterprise cloud services provider to implement the rigorous controls needed to earn approval for our contractual model clauses governing the transfer of data outside of European Union. We were the first cloud provider to achieve compliance with ISO’s important 27018 cloud privacy standard. Microsoft Azure has 53 major certifications and attestations – more than any other major public cloud provider.

When it comes to security, Microsoft’s unique visibility into the evolving threat landscape can also help protect the data that moves through your systems. Our cloud footprint includes over 100 datacenters and more than 200 cloud services. We’re investing over $1 billion annually in security and using our global insights to identify threats and protect your data.

This focus on privacy and security reflects the belief that our business ultimately relies on the trust of our customers, and we work hard to earn that trust.  That’s why Microsoft is committing to be GDPR compliant across our cloud services.

Visit the GDPR webpage on our new Microsoft Trust Center website to learn more about how the features and functionality of AzureDynamics 365Enterprise Mobility + SecurityOffice 365 and Windows 10 will enable you to meet the GDPR’s requirements.

Partnering with you now and in the future

As the fast-approaching GDPR deadline draws closer, we look forward to working in close partnership with you on GDPR compliance. We will continue to share the resources, tools and solutions you need to help develop your own compliance plan. In March, we will announce the details of our contractual commitments in accordance with GDPR rules. In the coming months, we will hold workshops, and host webinars for all customers and partners. We will also expand our GDPR web pages in the Trust Center to address your needs and feedback. Because when it comes to preparing for the GDPR, Microsoft has your back.

 

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The need for a Digital Geneva Convention https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/02/14/need-digital-geneva-convention/ Tue, 14 Feb 2017 16:32:25 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=50193 Responding to the rise in nation-state cybersecurity attacks This year’s RSA Conference in San Francisco brings the world’s security professionals together to discuss cybersecurity at a critical time.  The past year has witnessed not just the growth of cybercrime, but a proliferation in cyberattacks that is both new and disconcerting.  This has included not only cyber-attacks mounted for financial gain, but new nation-state attacks as well.  As engineers and other Read more »

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Infographic about proposed Digital Geneva Convention

Responding to the rise in nation-state cybersecurity attacks

This year’s RSA Conference in San Francisco brings the world’s security professionals together to discuss cybersecurity at a critical time.  The past year has witnessed not just the growth of cybercrime, but a proliferation in cyberattacks that is both new and disconcerting.  This has included not only cyber-attacks mounted for financial gain, but new nation-state attacks as well.  As engineers and other employees across the tech sector meet in San Francisco, we need to ask ourselves what our response should be.

We should start by acknowledging that no single step by itself will be sufficient to address this problem.  Of course, each of our companies needs to continue to do more to protect and defend our customers around the world, and at Microsoft we’re focused on doing precisely that.  So are others across the industry.  But in addition, the time has arrived to call on the world’s governments to implement international rules to protect the civilian use of the internet.

Just as the Fourth Geneva Convention has long protected civilians in times of war, we now need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace.  And just as the Fourth Geneva Convention recognized that the protection of civilians required the active involvement of the Red Cross, protection against nation-state cyberattacks requires the active assistance of technology companies.  The tech sector plays a unique role as the internet’s first responders, and we therefore should commit ourselves to collective action that will make the internet a safer place, affirming a role as a neutral Digital Switzerland that assists customers everywhere and retains the world’s trust.

A growing problem in need of new solutions

The bad news starts with the fact that 74 percent of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked each year.[1]  The estimated economic loss of cybercrime is estimated to reach $3 trillion by 2020.  Yet as these costs continue to climb, the financial damage is overshadowed by new and broadening risks.

Perhaps most disconcerting, recent years have witnessed the expansion of nation-state attacks.  The Sony attack by North Korea in 2014 was not the first nation-state attack, but it represented a visible turning point.  While prior attacks had focused on economic and military espionage, the Sony attack in 2014 involved retaliation for free expression in the form of a (not very popular) movie.  It was followed in 2015 by even more visible international discussion about nation-state attacks aimed at the theft of companies’ intellectual property.  And last year the issue broadened again to include hacking incidents connected to the democratic process itself.

We suddenly find ourselves living in a world where nothing seems off limits to nation-state attacks.  Conflicts between nations are no longer confined to the ground, sea and air, as cyberspace has become a potential new and global battleground.  There are increasing risks of governments attempting to exploit or even weaponize software to achieve national security objectives, and governmental investments in cyber offense are continuing to grow.

In fundamental ways, this new plane of battle is different from those of the past.  It starts with the fact that cyberspace does not exist in a clearly tangible form in the physical world.  But beyond this, cyberspace in fact is produced, operated, managed and secured by the private sector.  Governments obviously play all sorts of critical roles, but the reality is that the targets in this new battle – from submarine cables to datacenters, servers, laptops and smartphones – in fact are private property owned by civilians.

There’s an additional consequence that results from all this.  The tech sector today operates as the first responders to nation-state attacks on the internet.  A cyber-attack by one nation-state is met initially not by a response from another nation-state, but by private citizens.

The situation has also worsened in one additional and important way.  For two-thirds of a century, since 1949, the world’s nations have recognized through the Fourth Geneva Convention that they need to adhere to rules that protect civilians in times of war.  But nation-state hacking has evolved into attacks on civilians in times of peace.

This is not the world that the internet’s inventors envisioned 25 years ago.  But it’s the world that we inhabit today.  And as the private citizens thrust into this challenge, the question for all of us in the tech sector is what we will do to address it.

Stronger individual tech sector responses

Microsoft, like companies across the tech sector, is aggressively taking new steps to better protect and defend customers, including from nation-state attacks.  This includes new security features at every level of the technology stack, reflecting the $1 billion that we’re spending annually in the security field.

Email is currently at the heart of the cybersecurity battle, as an estimated 90 percent of all hacking begins with an email phishing attack.  Reflecting this importance, last year we added Advanced Threat Protection for Microsoft Exchange Online.  This identifies recognizable malware and suspicious code patterns in emails and stops them before they can do damage.  We then added Office 365 Threat Intelligence to provide enterprises with information on the top targeted users, malware frequency and security recommendations related to their business.  And last week we added new data governance features for Office 365 that include alerts that will be sent automatically to users when someone attempts to copy and download their inbox.  We’ll be adding new features and offers in the coming months that provide additional protection.

In many ways, however, security-related product features are just the start.  Data analytics and machine learning have become game-changing defense mechanisms for detecting nation-state attacks.  Microsoft’s datacenters are connected to over a billion computing end points and receive over a trillion data points every day.  Advanced Threat Protection alone processes 6 billion emails each day.  This provides the foundation for world-class early warning systems to detect cybersecurity attacks.

Within Microsoft we’ve forged a unique, internal three-part partnership as part of the 3,500 security professionals from across the company.   The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) is our reconnaissance arm, combing through the constant stream of data from our more than 200 cloud services and third-party feeds.  Using machine learning, behavioral analysis and forensic techniques, this dedicated team creates a real-time picture – a security intelligence graph – of cyber activity related to advanced and persistent threats to Microsoft and our customers.

When a threat is detected, MSTIC alerts our Cyber Defense Operations Center (CDOC), an “eyes on glass” command center staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by rotating teams of security and engineering professionals from across our product and services portfolio. This team of specialists serves as our frontline, taking immediate action against threats to defend our own systems and protect customers.

As we identify threats, we’re not only working with customers, but using legal process, led by our Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), to respond in new and innovative ways that disrupt attacks, including those launched by nation states.  Last year MSTIC identified an attack pattern that led to a group associated with a nation-state that had registered internet domains using names that included Microsoft and other companies’ trademarks.  We went to federal court, obtained court orders and successfully sought appointment of a Special Master to oversee and expedite additional motions in our case.  Working under this judicial supervision, we can notify internet registries whenever this group registers a fake Microsoft domain and request that control of that domain be transferred immediately to a sink-hole operated by DCU.

Using this novel approach, we can disrupt the nation-state’s use of these domains within 24 hours.  Since last summer, in response to extended nation-state attacks, we have taken down 60 domains in 49 countries spread over six continents.  In each instance we stopped the flow of data to the hackers from any customers whose computers were hacked, we notified the customers of the nation-state attack and we helped them clean their environment and increase their security.

Across the tech sector, companies are racing to provide stronger cybersecurity protection for customers, including from nation-states.  Each of our advances is making an important contribution.  But we’re nowhere close to being able to declare victory.  Governments are increasing their investments in offensive cyber capabilities.  We therefore need to recognize a critical truth – this is not a problem that we can solve solely with each of us acting alone.

Calling on governments to do more

The time has come to call on the world’s governments to come together, affirm international cybersecurity norms that have emerged in recent years, adopt new and binding rules and get to work implementing them.

In short, the time has come for governments to adopt a Digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians on the internet.

The foundation for new and international rules is now in place.  Over the last two years there has been important progress in developing global cybersecurity norms.  For example, in July 2015 governmental experts from 20 nations recommended cybersecurity norms for nation-states “aimed at promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment.”[2]  These include key principles that bar governments from engaging in malicious activity using information and communications technology or similarly damaging other nations’ critical infrastructure.

Importantly, leading governments have also proven that they can address these issues through direct and frank bilateral discussions.  Following highly visible and even challenging negotiations, in September 2015 the U.S. and China agreed to important commitments pledging that neither country’s government would conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property.[3]  This paved the way for the Group of 20 to affirm the same principle more broadly at its meeting just two months later.[4]  And additional inter-governmental discussions are continuing to progress further today.

All of this points the way to potential new steps ahead.  First, there is a new opportunity for vital bilateral action.  Just as the United States and China overcame mutual challenges and made important progress in 2015 to ban intellectual property cyber-theft, the United States and Russia can hammer out a future agreement to ban the nation-state hacking of all the civilian aspects of our economic and political infrastructures.

Second, governments around the world should pursue a broader multilateral agreement that affirms recent cybersecurity norms as global rules.  Just as the world’s governments came together in 1949 to adopt the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect civilians in times of war, we need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to implement the norms that have been developed to protect civilians on the internet in times of peace.

Such a convention should commit governments to avoiding cyber-attacks that target the private sector or critical infrastructure or the use of hacking to steal intellectual property.  Similarly, it should require that governments assist private sector efforts to detect, contain, respond to and recover from these events, and should mandate that governments report vulnerabilities to vendors rather than stockpile, sell or exploit them.

In addition, a Digital Geneva Convention needs to create an independent organization that spans the public and private sectors.  Specifically, the world needs an independent organization that can investigate and share publicly the evidence that attributes nation-state attacks to specific countries.

While there is no perfect analogy, the world needs an organization that can address cyber threats in a manner like the role played by the International Atomic Energy Agency in the field of nuclear non-proliferation.  This organization should consist of technical experts from across governments, the private sector, academia and civil society with the capability to examine specific attacks and share the evidence showing that a given attack was by a specific nation-state.  Only then will nation-states know that if they violate the rules, the world will learn about it.

Building a trusted and neutral Digital Switzerland

Finally, those of us in the tech sector need to act collectively to better protect the internet and customers everywhere from nation-state attacks.  As the first responders to threats that in part target our own infrastructure, it’s important for global technology companies to adopt concrete commitments to help deter and respond to nation-state cyberattacks.  As the Fourth Geneva Convention relies on the Red Cross to help protect civilians in wartime, protection against nation-state cyberattacks requires the active assistance of the tech sector.

We need to start with a clear premise. Even in a world of growing nationalism, when it comes to cybersecurity the global tech sector needs to operate as a neutral Digital Switzerland.  We will assist and protect customers everywhere.  We will not aid in attacking customers anywhere.  We need to retain the world’s trust.  And every government regardless of its policies or politics needs a national and global IT infrastructure that it can trust.

This commitment to 100 percent defense and zero percent offense has been fundamental to our approach as a company and an industry. And it needs to remain this way in the future.

If we’re going to turn these words into effective action, we need to come together as an industry to adopt our own clear principles and to help put in place the steps needed to make these principles real.  For example, we should commit ourselves to collaborative and proactive defense against nation-state attacks and to remediate the impact of such attacks. We should pledge that we’ll continue to take no efforts to assist in offensive actions anywhere.  We should make software patches available to all our users, regardless of the attackers and their motives. We should adopt coordinated disclosure practices for the handling of product and service vulnerabilities.  And we should work together to support international defensive efforts, like the new international organization described above.[5]

There is strong progress on which we can build.  For example, we at Microsoft have been collaborating with other leading cloud companies like Amazon and Google to combat cloud abuse such as spam and phishing sites.  We’re working together on a common abuse reporting schema to accelerate the reporting of abuses we may see on each other’s networks.  On issues such as customer notification of potential nation-state attacks, we’ve all learned from important work where Google and Facebook have been early and impressive leaders.  More broadly, there is good work and common collaboration springing up everywhere, from new startups to the industry’s largest companies.

Finally, as we consider these questions, it’s worth reflecting on at least one aspect of some of the other recent issues that have united the tech sector.

The recent debates about immigration have brought to the surface an important truth.  As an industry, the tech sector has literally brought the world together under its own roof.  For example, at Microsoft in Washington state, a strong majority of our employees were born in the United States, but we also have employees who have come from 157 countries. I’ve long arrived at the office each morning feeling that I work at the United Nations of Information Technology.

Our company is not unique. As an industry, we’ve brought people together in ways that can promote mutual understanding and respect. We need to harness this global understanding to protect people everywhere, earning their confidence as the world’s Digital Switzerland.

[1] http://www.isaca.org/cyber/Documents/State-of-Cybersecurity-infographic.pdf

[2] http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/70/174

[3] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/25/fact-sheet-president-xi-jinpings-state-visit-united-states

[4] http://g20.org.tr/g20-leaders-commenced-the-antalya-summit/, at paragraph 26.  The G-20 provision affirmed the same provision agreed to by the U.S. and China, stating “that no country should conduct or support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.”

[5] For a more complete discussion of these principles, see https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/06/23/cybersecurity-norms-nation-states-global-ict-industry/#sm.000fn948avqfd2m11711pov1fd3a2

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At US Safer Internet Day launch event in Philadelphia, youth commit to being kinder online https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/02/10/us-safer-internet-day-launch-event-philadelphia-youth-commit-kinder-online/ Fri, 10 Feb 2017 16:00:31 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=50109 Youth and teens attending the official U.S. launch event of Safer Internet Day 2017 embraced Microsoft’s Digital Civility Challenge and committed to being kinder and more respectful to one another online. Celebrated in Philadelphia, as part of Safer Internet Day 2017, Microsoft released research from 14 countries, our inaugural Digital Civility Index, the challenge and other resources to encourage more empathetic and respectful online interactions. Our hope is that digital Read more »

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Photo of teens' Post-its on display board about digital civility

Youth and teens attending the official U.S. launch event of Safer Internet Day 2017 embraced Microsoft’s Digital Civility Challenge and committed to being kinder and more respectful to one another online.

Celebrated in Philadelphia, as part of Safer Internet Day 2017, Microsoft released research from 14 countries, our inaugural Digital Civility Index, the challenge and other resources to encourage more empathetic and respectful online interactions. Our hope is that digital civility – built on a strong foundation of empathy – becomes a universal message and a second-nature behavior to foster a safer, more trusted and more respectful internet.

In Philadelphia, we asked young people at the launch to share with us the challenge tenet that resonated most with them, as well as what they will do to help promote digital civility this month and throughout the year. In short, the challenge consists of four basic tenets:

  1. Living the Golden Rule
  2. Respecting differences
  3. Pausing before replying, and
  4. Standing up for one’s self and others. (Click here to read the full Digital Civility Challenge.)

Out of 109 responses from youth ages 10 to 17, the Golden Rule was the clear favorite; nearly 40 percent of young people selected that single challenge ideal as the one to get behind. A dozen others said they would live the Golden Rule by respecting differences or standing up for others online. Another 20 percent said they would make an extra effort to pause before replying to posts they disagree with, and just under a third said they would either respect differences or make an extra effort to stand up for themselves and others online. A small number of students came up with their own commitments or adapted one or more of the challenge tenets. These included:

  • “I will pause before replying because if I send some mean messages, I can harm someone else’s feelings. I would be a cyberbully. If I give away some personal information, I can threaten my safety.” – Dante, age 12
  • “To respect people even if they don’t respect me.” – Israel, age 15
  • “To make positive comments to help people who have insecurities.” – Ailani, age 13
  • “I believe that if you stand up for yourself and others it will make a difference and hopefully evolve our generation.” – Valerie, age 12

Microsoft was honored to be a part of the U.S. launch sponsored by ConnectSafely.org. In a panel discussion, we presented our Digital Civility Challenge and told teenagers that we’re currently accepting applications for our new Council for Digital Good. We also managed a booth where were the young people shared their challenge commitments. The audience also heard from William Hite, Jr., the superintendent of Philadelphia’s public schools, who shared that K-12 Philadelphia youth are taught both internet safety and digital citizenship. Lessons include savvy guidance such as owning one’s online presence, thinking before posting, safeguarding your online reputation and being conscious of your digital footprint. Other speakers included the president of the National PTA, Laura Bay, and representatives from Comcast, Facebook, Google, LifeLock and TrendMicro.

Still, it was the youth themselves that offered some of the most perceptive and insightful comments. The closing panel asked select young people to share their thoughts on the day. One teenage girl commented, “One thing I take out of today is hope – hope that there are people out there that are concerned about people’s safety online, and concerned about us growing up … on the internet.” Another teen said he learned that he needs to “chill” on some social media interactions because “I don’t want them to come back at me later in life.” And, an elementary school participant summed up the day this way, “Today was a really special day. It gave me a clear view on ‘think before you post or say anything.’”

Safer Internet Day 2017 may be behind us, but there’s still time to commit to putting our best digital foot forward by taking the Digital Civility Challenge and committing to its four ideals. It’s not too late to share your pledge on social media. Use the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.

For other advice and guidance visit our website and resources page, and for more regular news and information, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Microsoft releases Digital Civility Index, challenges people to be more empathetic online https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/02/07/microsoft-releases-digital-civility-index-challenges-people-empathetic-online/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:00:17 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49619 It’s Safer Internet Day 2017, and Microsoft is challenging people around the world to embrace “digital civility” and to treat each other with respect and dignity online. It may sound simple, but new Microsoft research shows people are concerned about the tone of online interactions and worry that risks will increase in the future. The research prompted the creation of our Digital Civility Index, which we’re also announcing today – Read more »

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It’s Safer Internet Day 2017, and Microsoft is challenging people around the world to embrace “digital civility” and to treat each other with respect and dignity online. It may sound simple, but new Microsoft research shows people are concerned about the tone of online interactions and worry that risks will increase in the future.

The research prompted the creation of our Digital Civility Index, which we’re also announcing today – a new measure of people’s safety online and exposure to risks.

Click on the image to see the full infographic or to download it.

New global study on civility, safety and online interactions

Last June, we conducted a study in 14 countries,[1] gauging the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) about the state of digital civility today. We measured survey respondents’ lifetime exposure to 17 online risks[2] across four categories: behavioral, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive.

Some of the questions we asked included:

  • How do you feel about civility, safety and interactions online?
  • Which online risks have you and your close circle experienced?
  • How concerned are you about those 17 risks?
  • When and how often have the risks occurred?
  • What consequences and actions were taken?
  • Where did you and others turn for help?

Results show people experienced these top five risks online:

  1. Unwanted contact
  2. Being treated mean
  3. Trolling
  4. Receiving unwanted sexts
  5. Online harassment

Here are some additional highlights from our research:

  • Two out of three respondents said they had fallen victim to at least one risk; that percentage swelled to 78 percent when participants also accounted for the online experiences of their friends and family members.
  • 50 percent reported being “extremely or very” worried about life online generally.
  • 62 percent said they did not know or were unsure where to get help when they encountered an online risk.

Benchmarking the state of digital civility

We used the results to inform what we’re calling our “Digital Civility Index.” We computed the index for each country surveyed, as well as an international reading that includes all 14. The index works like a golf score: the lower the value (on a scale from zero to 100), the lower the respondents’ risk exposure and the higher the perceived level of online civility among people in that country.

The international Digital Civility Index score stands at 65. Results show a person, on average, experienced 2.2 online safety risks out of the 17 included in the study. Countries that registered the lowest index readings (and thus the highest levels of perceived digital civility) were the U.K. (45) Australia (51), and the U.S. (55). Countries on the lower end were South Africa (78), Mexico (76) and Russia (74). The new index builds on the Microsoft Computing Safety Index released from 2010 to 2013, specifically that index’s behavioral component.

So, what does all this mean? People are establishing social norms online that include treating each other with respect and dignity, but there’s more that we can all do. We’d like to see digital civility – grounded in empathy – become a universal message and a common-sense behavior, so the internet can be a safe place for everyone to exchange ideas, learn, play and connect.

Join our Digital Civility Challenge

In an attempt to put empathy more front and center in digital dialogues, we’re introducing Microsoft’s Digital Civility Challenge. The challenge calls on people to commit daily to four ideals and to share their pledge on social media, using the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility. Specifically, we’re encouraging individuals to:

  1. Live the Golden Rule by acting with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treating everyone they connect with online with dignity and respect.
  2. Respect differences and honor diverse perspectives, and when disagreements surface to engage thoughtfully, and avoid name-calling and personal attacks.
  3. Pause before replying to things people disagree with, and not posting or sending anything that could hurt someone else, damage reputations or threaten people’s safety.
  4. Stand up for myself and others by supporting those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, reporting activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserving evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.

As we rally people, peers and partners to join our challenge, we recognize and will continue to seek opportunities to unite our work with others’. For example, the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s #endbullying campaign highlights that people behave behind keyboards in ways they would never conduct themselves face to face – largely because empathy isn’t naturally present in the digital space.

“We could eradicate most cruelty, bullying and humiliation that occurs online if every bystander became an ‘upstander,’” says Sean Kosofsky, executive director of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “We can interrupt harassment, report it and reach out to the affected person.” (Click here for additional comments from other leading advocacy organizations and groups in favor of spreading the word about digital civility.)

Best practices for digital civility

Beyond informative data and fun social challenges, we need to unite and grow a culture of digital civility – and everyone has a role to play. Microsoft’s aim with this new initiative is to start a conversation about how being civil online can benefit society. Indeed, civility in everyday interactions fosters vibrant, engaged communities.

Along with the new index, we’re also sharing suggested best practices for digital civility. As I recently said, we don’t profess to have all the answers – not by any means, but we want to offer an evidentiary starting point for further discussion and engagement. Our hope is that policymakers, companies and organizations will consider our suggestions and build on our initial efforts through fresh digital civility-related projects and programs.

Safer Internet Day resources

We hope you’ll get involved this Safer Internet Day, and champion digital civility today and throughout the year. Our website and resources page are a great place to start. They offer advice and guidance for exploring and handling almost any online safety situation. Additionally, beginning today, Microsoft Store locations across the United States will offer free Online Safety workshops available for anyone. Whether you’re a student looking for ways ensure your privacy or a parent who wants to learn the best practices for keeping your family safe online, you can learn more by visiting your local Microsoft Store and signing up for a free, in-store Online Safety workshop.

For more regular news and information, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Take the Digital Civility Challenge today and let’s aim to make Safer Internet Day 2017 the most thoughtful and fruitful yet!

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[1] Countries surveyed: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

[2] Risks discussed:

  • Behavioral – Treated mean, trolling, online harassment, cyberbullying, swatting
  • Reputation – Doxing, damage to personal reputation, damage to work reputation
  • Sexual – Receiving unwanted sexts, solicitation, sending unwanted sexts, sextortion, “revenge porn”
  • Personal/Intrusive – Unwanted contact, hate speech, discrimination, terrorism recruiting

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The need for an exception process under last week’s executive order https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/02/02/need-exception-process-last-weeks-executive-order/ Thu, 02 Feb 2017 16:00:28 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49692 Proposal calls for case-by-case exception process for law-abiding visa holders with pressing needs In last Friday’s executive order, the President expressly gave to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the authority to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the national interest, to issue visas and other immigration benefits. Today Microsoft is filing a formal request asking these cabinet officers to create a process to grant exceptions that Read more »

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Proposal calls for case-by-case exception process for law-abiding visa holders with pressing needs

In last Friday’s executive order, the President expressly gave to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the authority to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the national interest, to issue visas and other immigration benefits. Today Microsoft is filing a formal request asking these cabinet officers to create a process to grant exceptions that will permit “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” to re-enter the country while protecting the nation’s security. The important details for this proposal are included in our formal request and are outlined below.

At the outset, we recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order. Our company is one among many that has expressed its views, and we will continue to participate energetically and constructively in the public discussions that help define our democratic processes.

But even amidst these debates, there is an opportunity under the executive order to address the pressing needs of real people. There currently are law-abiding visa holders who are parents that were outside the United States last Friday and therefore cannot re-enter the country. These parents are stranded and separated from their children. Other individuals are confronting genuine family emergencies such as the need to visit a critically ill parent.

At Microsoft we have seen these needs first-hand through some of our 76 employees who are impacted by last week’s order and, together with their 41 dependents, have nonimmigrant visas to live in the United States. These needs almost certainly are not unique to our employees and their families. We believe that limited but important steps to help all such individuals can be taken by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, consistent with national security and the authority that the President expressly gave to them.

Section 3(g) of last week’s order states expressly that “the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.” Acting under this provision, we have filed a request proposing that these cabinet officers create an exception process for “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” by satisfying the following criteria:

•     The applicant initially must fall into one of three categories: (a) an individual who already holds a valid nonimmigrant work visa sponsored by a U.S. employer enrolled in the E-Verify program, which helps ensure responsible visa use; (b) an individual who already holds an F-1 student visa to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. university and can provide documentation from the university showing that he or she is currently enrolled and in good standing; or (c) be an immediate family member of one of these individuals and hold a derivative nonimmigrant visa;

•     The individual must have committed no crime in the United States;

•     If applying to depart from the U.S. and subsequently re-enter, the purpose of the travel must be for an exigent family-related emergency or for the business need of an employer. The travel abroad would be for a duration of no longer than two weeks; and

•     Business travel abroad would not include passage through the countries covered by the executive order. Personal travel abroad for exigent family-related emergencies may allow for travel to any country on a case-by-case basis.

As we explain in our formal request, U.S. immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed. This includes individuals’ occupation, place of residence, place of work, family members, state identification/driver’s license information, and the existence of any criminal history. In short, these individuals are “known quantities” in their communities:  their character, personalities, conduct, and behavior is understood by their colleagues, employers, friends, and neighbors.

Many of these individuals also fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals. They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research and business acumen of our nation, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of U.S. companies.

We also believe it is appropriate to consider the needs of impacted foreign students pursuing their studies at our nation’s universities. It would be tragic for a student to be faced with the need to forfeit a dream of completing one’s education in the United States to tend to family needs that are entirely outside of one’s control.

In sum, we believe there is a clear opportunity for limited and important action under last week’s executive order.

We know that we do not have all the answers; in publishing this proposal, we hope that others will improve upon our ideas. Nor does this request attempt to address all the important immigration questions currently before the nation. But we believe there is a need and opportunity, amidst the broader debate, for immediate action under the executive order to help real people address pressing needs.

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Response to the Jan. 27 US executive order on immigration https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/01/31/response-to-the-jan-27-u-s-executive-order-on-immigration/ Tue, 31 Jan 2017 15:00:20 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49659 On Sunday Microsoft issued the following statement in response to the Jan. 27 executive order on immigration: “We believe the executive order is misguided and a fundamental step backwards. There are more effective ways to protect public safety without creating so much collateral damage to the country’s reputation and values.” On Monday, Jan. 30, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hosted an employee Q&A, where he offered more personal remarks, saying: “I Read more »

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On Sunday Microsoft issued the following statement in response to the Jan. 27 executive order on immigration:

“We believe the executive order is misguided and a fundamental step backwards. There are more effective ways to protect public safety without creating so much collateral damage to the country’s reputation and values.”

On Monday, Jan. 30, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hosted an employee Q&A, where he offered more personal remarks, saying:

“I always come back to two things. One is the enduring principles and values that drive us as a company, that have made us and this country what it is, and my own personal story.

There is no place for bias or bigotry in any society, in any context. That’s where we start from. We will always as a company stand for that diversity and inclusion. And we’ll keep pushing at it, pushing at it, and making progress. That’s core to who we are. That I believe is core to what America is.

I mean, think about it, I am a product of the fundamental greatness of the United States. It is the ingenuity of the American technology that reached me where I was growing up that even made it possible for me to dream of being able to be part of this journey. It is the enlightened immigration policy of this country that even made it possible for me to come here in the first place, and gave me all this opportunity.

And so I always think about that. I will always advocate for that America that I know and that I’ve experienced.

And we will do that consistently. We’re not going to overreact because of any one incident, but we will always stand for what we believe are these enduring principles that really are going to be about us as a company, but also recognizing that we’re a multinational company that is an American company.”

As Satya made clear during the meeting, Microsoft will continue to work directly with employees and their families affected by the executive order, including providing them with legal and other assistance. And the company will continue to advocate strongly on these issues with the Administration and with Congress.

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Calling US teens: Apply to join our new Council for Digital Good https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/01/17/calling-us-teens-apply-join-new-council-digital-good/ Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:00:09 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49577 Teenagers in the U.S., listen up: here’s a unique opportunity to have your voices heard about digital issues. Effective today, Microsoft is accepting applications for our Council for Digital Good, a one-year pilot program for youths ages 13 to 17 to help lay the groundwork for a new approach to online interactions. Selected council members will be invited to our Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington, for a two-day trip in Read more »

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Illustration of laurel branches with computer power on button in the center

Teenagers in the U.S., listen up: here’s a unique opportunity to have your voices heard about digital issues. Effective today, Microsoft is accepting applications for our Council for Digital Good, a one-year pilot program for youths ages 13 to 17 to help lay the groundwork for a new approach to online interactions. Selected council members will be invited to our Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington, for a two-day trip in early August.

Today’s youth are tech-savvy, digitally engaged and resourceful, and we at Microsoft are interested in what they’re doing online, who they’re connecting with, and what they’re sharing and learning. In turn, we’re cognizant that being online presents very real risks, and we want to make sure young people appreciate – and have the skills to help mitigate – those risks. That’s why we’re piloting this council: to gain diverse perspectives from youth in the U.S. on the state of online interactions today, as well as their hopes and ideals for what would make online life healthier, safer and more enjoyable.

Apply to join our Council for Digital Good
Interested teens ages 13 to 17 living in the United States should complete and submit this online application by Wednesday, March 1.

In addition to some basic information, the application calls for either essay or video responses to questions about life online, expectations for their council experience, and about Microsoft generally.

Special two-day event for council members
Following application reviews and selection, we’ll invite 12 to 15 young people from across the country to join the inaugural council, which will culminate in a two-day trip for each council member and a parent or guardian to attend a council summit at our company headquarters.

The summit is expected to include small group and full council discussions, a separate “parent track,” interactive sessions with guest speakers, engagement with Microsoft consumer product and service group representatives, and fun activities. After the summit, we hope council members will serve as ambassadors for digital civility in their schools and communities, share their experiences and continue their participation in council-specific online forums. For questions about the council or planned activities, contact safekids@microsoft.com.

To learn more about Microsoft’s work in online safety generally, visit our website and resources page on the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub, and be on the lookout for our digital civility release on Safer Internet Day 2017, Feb. 7. And, for more regular news and information about online safety, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Next Generation Washington: Our perspective on this year’s state legislative agenda https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/01/12/next-generation-washington-perspective-years-state-legislative-agenda/ Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:58:44 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49502 As we begin a new year, lawmakers from across Washington state have been sharing the policy positions they are advocating for during this year’s legislative session.  Increasingly public interest groups have also called for increased transparency by others who “walk the halls” in the state capitol, including companies.  We thought about this and concluded that these groups make a good point; after all, the democratic process benefits from more open Read more »

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As we begin a new year, lawmakers from across Washington state have been sharing the policy positions they are advocating for during this year’s legislative session.  Increasingly public interest groups have also called for increased transparency by others who “walk the halls” in the state capitol, including companies.  We thought about this and concluded that these groups make a good point; after all, the democratic process benefits from more open and public discussion.  I’ve therefore summarized below the issues we want to address this year in Olympia.  Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful.

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A Balanced Agenda to Create Opportunity

As one of the largest employers in the state, we at Microsoft have long strived to support a balanced and bipartisan approach to public policy while using our technology and expertise to advance forward-looking initiatives.  Our focus has included the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, expanded computer science and STEM education, the new SR-520 bridge and last fall’s successful ST3 proposal, to name a few issues.  Recognizing the need for additional state resources, we also worked proactively during the last biennium with legislative leaders on a focused proposal that was adopted and increased tax payments for Microsoft and no other taxpayer in the state.

As the legislature starts its 2017 session, the issues in Washington state mirror many of the important topics throughout the nation.  While rapid advances in technology have spurred economic growth and opportunity, these gains have not been shared universally.  While the Puget Sound region boasts an abundance of opportunities for some, many others haven’t prospered.  And the economic expansion taking place in the Seattle region hasn’t taken hold in many communities across the state, driving a divide between affluent and struggling areas.  Across the state, the Washington Roundtable’s “Benchmarks for a Better Washington” demonstrate real progress in important areas, but also a lot of room for additional steps to address several indicators that define globally competitive states, including educating our youth.

We need a legislative agenda that will enhance economic growth, create new opportunities for more individuals to participate in that growth, and protect and improve the quality of life enjoyed by Washington residents.

We know that we don’t have all the answers.  We also appreciate that there are many thoughtful individuals, groups, and companies across the state that have good ideas.  In the coming weeks and months, we’re interested in listening to and learning from others.  As always in every legislative session, ideas will evolve and creative compromises will emerge.  But with all this said, we’re hopeful that this year’s session will include consideration for five public policy pillars that we believe are important for Next Generation Washington:

Education and Workforce Training

It’s obvious to even a casual observer that our lawmakers this year must address a final and very large set of hurdles associated with the Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision and funding for K-12 education.  We look forward to participating in this vital discussion.

We believe that one key to this conversation is a recognition of both the recent progress made by the state and the need to do more.  This decade we’ve seen the state’s high school graduation rate rise from 75.4 percent for the class of 2010 to 78.1 percent for the class of 2015.  This progress is a testament to the work not just of the students themselves, but also to many great teachers, strong schools, committed families, and dedicated state officials.  While we obviously can’t afford to spend too much time patting ourselves on the back as a state, we nonetheless should reflect on and thank all the talented people who continue to make progress possible.  They provide some of our best inspiration for the additional, big steps we’ll need to take in the coming months.

As we all come together to discuss the McCleary decision’s requirements, we obviously need to address some big questions.  We appreciate that there will be an extended discussion about both the amount of funding needed and where it will come from, including new revenue sources.  We look forward to learning more about the options being considered in Olympia and rolling up our sleeves and participating in a constructive way.  From our perspective, one key goal should be to ensure that we not only invest more money in K-12 education as a state, but that we do so in a manner that will improve outcomes for our students.  For instance, we urge policymakers to consider adopting a student-based budgeting model, as many other states have, to improve equity and outcomes.  Education, after all, is about our kids and their future.

But as important and big of a challenge as this is, we hope that the state’s leaders won’t stop there.

The state’s educational needs don’t end with high school diplomas.  A recent Boston Consulting Group report found that Washington will have 740,000 new job openings over the next five years, a number that exceeds the state’s historic growth rate and triples the national average for job growth over this period.  Fast-growing middle-wage and high-wage jobs will require post-secondary degrees, certificates, or other credentials.  Therefore, even as we invest in our K-12 system, we also need to address the learning needs of people after high school.  If we don’t, we’re likely to see open jobs persisting side-by-side with unemployment rates that are unacceptably high.

As part of a Next Generation Washington, we need to continue to innovate and support new post-high school educational steps.  Some of this should involve our public four-year institutions, such as expanding their capacity in high-demand degree programs and completing investments like the second Computer Science Engineering building at the University of Washington.  In the 2017 session, we’ll support the capital request for an additional $7.5 million for this building, to bring the total state funding for it in line with the original $40 million request.  Especially as the state continues to expand computer science and coding classes for K-12 students (which similarly should be a continuing priority this session), there will need to be expanded opportunities for high school graduates to advance their computer science learning in college in ways that will prepare them for the jobs our state is creating.

We also will support new learning and training opportunities for so-called middle-skill jobs.  There are many good jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree, but they do require learning beyond high school.  This area is ripe for innovation and investment, which this video we produced with the Markle Foundation illustrates.

One important way to expand opportunities for people to pursue this learning is to expand the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) to create new opportunities at community colleges.  As a company, we’re big believers in WSOS, having donated $35 million to it, and I’ve chaired the WSOS Board.  Other companies, including Boeing, have been huge supporters as well.  It’s a trendsetter nationally in matching private scholarship donations with state funds.  In just five years since its inception, more than 5,500 Washington students have received grants of up to $22,500 to pursue degrees in science, technology, and health care fields.  The program is growing, and next year over 5,000 students with these scholarships will be enrolled across the state.  Of the 1,500 who have completed their degrees so far, 90 percent remain in the state.

Given the need to increase post-secondary credentials in high-demand fields, we believe this is the year to expand the WSOS model to support students who want to earn an associate’s degree or industry certificate at one of the state’s community and technical colleges.  With Washington’s 34 strong public community and technical colleges serving 386,000 students annually, this is an excellent opportunity to expand the statewide impact of the WSOS program.

We should also build on the state’s longstanding and successful track record in vocational apprenticeship programs by developing new youth apprenticeship opportunities, including by learning from successful programs in places such as Colorado and Switzerland.  Today, Washington’s registered apprenticeship programs are underway in virtually every region of the state, but not typically focused on youth or well integrated into high schools.  The average age of an apprentice in our state is 27.

Contrast that situation to the one in Switzerland, which has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the world.  In Switzerland, 70 percent of young people choose to pursue their education through a Vocational Education and Training (VET) apprenticeship pathway that starts in high school. The VET program offers 230 occupational apprenticeship pathways that incorporate standard high-school curricula, industry-based curricula, and on-the-job training that leads to a credential for immediate employment.

While we of course would need to adapt this type of program to our institutions and culture, we can learn a lot from recent efforts in Colorado to do just that.  That state is moving quickly to adapt the Swiss-style career-connected learning model, with $11 million in public, private and foundation funding to develop a comprehensive high school apprenticeship system.

This is why one of Microsoft’s priorities this session is to support Governor Inslee’s initiative for Career-Connected Learning, including his funding proposal for $12 million (half public/half private) to engage in-and-out-of-school youth in career-connected learning opportunities, including youth apprenticeships, across the K-12 and youth development sectors.  These efforts would initially focus on low income, rural youth, and youth from populations underrepresented in high-demand fields.  If adopted, Microsoft will help support and fund a strong public-private partnership to define targets, invest in high-impact models, and catalyze systemic changes.

Improvements to the Criminal Justice System

A change for Microsoft this session is our prioritization of potential improvements in the criminal justice system.  Across the country over the past year, we’ve come to appreciate more keenly the importance of criminal justice issues.  Diverse segments of our population can have widely divergent experiences in their interactions with law enforcement, and therefore widely divergent perceptions of the law enforcement community.  There is a need to address these issues, and an expanded conversation across our state is not just timely, but important.

We believe there is a common public interest in healthy community policing that both respects the vital role played by our public safety officers and ensures that people of all races and backgrounds have confidence in our law enforcement system.  The time to strengthen our state’s dialogue around these issues is not after a tragedy or crisis.  It is now, and often at a local level, so that we can avoid tragedies and crises in our hometowns.

As an employer of a large workforce comprised of deeply talented individuals of every race and from around the world, and with an eye towards the needs of their families, we hope to contribute to new and constructive initiatives in this space.  As we do so, we’re interested in helping to explore how data gathering and analysis and technology tools may improve the effectiveness of public safety officers in serving all segments of our community.  We believe there are important opportunities for the state, local law enforcement agencies, and public-interest groups to work collaboratively and closely together.  This might include, for example, (1) expansion of data collection, storage and analysis to track not only arrests and citations, but stops and investigations; (2) use of data analysis to define best practices and design state-of-the-art police training programs; (3) use of new technological tools like HoloLens in situational training such as de-escalation techniques; and (4) cross-agency data collaboration to allow real-time sharing that improves the incident response effectiveness.  We know this is just a start.  If the state can help promote this type of dialogue, many good people will bring new ideas to the table.

We also believe that Washington state should strive to create a national model for a criminal justice system that not only provides strong public safety protections but also creates new opportunities for offenders to lead more productive lives upon release.  To contribute to this effort, we at Microsoft will work with lawmakers to evaluate the potential benefits of offering digital literacy, productivity tools and coding training to some inmates in the corrections system setting.  And we’re prepared to explore ways that our philanthropic resources can contribute as well.

Equal Pay in the Workplace

 Washington voters have signaled their interest in ensuring that the workplace provides meaningful opportunities for everyone.  Meanwhile, over the last several sessions, some lawmakers have proposed legislation to mandate equal pay.  In general, their proposals have often met with less than support from the business community.

We want to work with lawmakers and the business community to pursue strong compromise proposals on equal pay and paid family leave that will provide important protections and predictability to employees and employers alike.  We believe the time has come to find a path that can meet the needs of stakeholders across the economy, and we hope that 2017 can bring a breakthrough in this space.

A Cascadia Innovation Corridor

The Seattle and Vancouver regions’ synergies in research, innovation, and technology development represent a game-changing opportunity to create an innovation corridor that will generate job opportunities and prosperity well beyond what our two cities can achieve separately.  Microsoft is committed to supporting several important efforts to help strengthen this corridor.

We hope that one big piece of this will include a strengthening of our transportation systems across the border.  There are multiple ways we can address this.

One such opportunity is to build on the fact that, in March 2015, the United States and Canada reached an agreement to expand preclearance to passenger rail facilities as part of the Beyond the Border Agreement.  For the first time, rail preclearance facilities in Canada will allow travelers to pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspections prior to traveling, expediting their arrival in the U.S. while also protecting national security.  Microsoft was pleased to see Congress in December enact H.R. 4657, the Promoting Travel, Commerce and national Security Act of 2016, as a necessary initial step toward full implementation of the Agreement.  Now we can build on this further.

As an additional step to enhance connections, we also believe it’s important to continue to investigate the feasibility of air service between Lake Washington or Lake Union and Vancouver’s inner Harbor.  Initial conversations with air operators indicate that doing so would require organization of a group of businesses to provide a base level of passengers in the initial phase.  At Microsoft, we’re prepared to support this effort and help make it a success.  Additionally, some financial hurdles exist with Canadian Customs that would have to be overcome to make the service financially viable.  There may be opportunities to align these issues and address the challenges concurrently.

Finally, it makes sense in the transportation space to explore high speed rail (HSR) between Seattle and Vancouver.  The governor’s proposed transportation budget provides $1 million to evaluate the feasibility of HSR in Washington state, including potential connections to Vancouver and Portland.  We support this proposed budget request.

Of course, it’s important to promote opportunities for people not just to travel across the U.S.-Canadian border, but for our two regions to work more closely together in ways that will promote broad economic growth.  We believe there are a variety of new and important opportunities to advance this, including by promoting more collaborative work by our regions’ great research universities and by our renowned cancer research institutions Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the BC Cancer Agency.  We look forward to working with Washington state, the province of British Columbia, and others this year to help advance this.

A Cloud for Global Good

The cloud innovations coming from local companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Zillow and Tableau, among many others, are driving the transformation of businesses and industries around the world.  They are helping our customers create new capabilities, connect with their own customers in deeper ways, solve problems, gain insights, and access new markets.  Our region is leading the world in developing cloud technology, and we should be a leader in unleashing its benefits for our citizens.  We are committed to building a cloud that is trusted, responsible, and inclusive, promising economic and social benefits for both urban and rural communities.

We authored a Cloud for Global Good policy roadmap to help lawmakers and policy influencers navigate the societal implications of technology to ensure that the cloud benefits everyone, not just the fortunate few.  One of the important cloud computing-related opportunities in Washington is the deployment of broadband services to rural areas through public-private partnerships.  Telecom companies and port districts are interested in new legislation to facilitate broadband deployment in rural area through such partnerships.

Currently, such arrangements are not authorized under state law.  Government entities may not offer telecom or broadband services on the retail level; they may only offer these services on a wholesale basis with ISP’s offering the retail service to consumers.  Although these latter arrangements exist in a few areas in the state (including Grant County and Tacoma), they are largely unprofitable and require some form of subsidy from the sponsoring utility.

Legislation to extend new authority to public ports as an economic development tool is being promoted by the Washington Public Ports Association and by CenturyLink. We believe it’s important to consider this opportunity, including the use of new and less expensive broadband technologies that we are helping to develop, such as TV White Spaces.

Microsoft is beginning the technical work on a project to provide TV White Spaces broadband internet access to a few thousand residential customers in Lincoln County, Washington, located in the rural, eastern part of the state.  Our goal is not to enter the connectivity business, but to develop, test, and prove out the technologies that can help bring broadband to communities that don’t have it today.  We believe that broadband deployment is critical for creating additional economic opportunities in rural areas and reducing the divisions between the Central Puget Sound and the rest of the state.  Hence this too should be an important legislative priority.

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As all of this reflects, 2017 can be a busy and important year for Washington state.  We will need leadership, constructive conversation, and ultimately creative compromises to make this potential a reality.  We believe it’s a year for the state to aim high, and for all of us across the business community and the private sector to help make this year a success.  As a company, Microsoft is committed to doing its part.

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Year in review: New online safety resources created, 2017 brings focus on digital civility https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2016/12/19/year-review-new-online-safety-resources-created-2017-brings-focus-digital-civility/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 14:00:30 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/?p=49439 I recently attended the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., where the event theme – “Online Safety in Transition” – prompted me to reflect on my work in online safety and how it has evolved. Looking back on 2016, the online safety landscape has indeed shifted and we at Microsoft will continue to focus on the issue in 2017. When I began working in online safety some Read more »

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I recently attended the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., where the event theme – “Online Safety in Transition” – prompted me to reflect on my work in online safety and how it has evolved. Looking back on 2016, the online safety landscape has indeed shifted and we at Microsoft will continue to focus on the issue in 2017.

When I began working in online safety some 12 years ago, risks like child predation took center stage, more out of fear than fact, and issues such as phishing were just starting to become mainstream. With a code of conduct and robust content moderation practices in place, our responses focused on public awareness-raising, informal educational efforts and collaboration with others in industry and civil society. While being cognizant of existing and emerging risks, we spoke of the transformational power of technology, and the promises to be derived from a connected world. And, while those ideals still hold true, a dozen years later, the face of online safety has changed.

In 2016, Microsoft announced new resources for reporting hate speech on our hosted consumer services, developed a new form for reporting any type of content that we may have removed (or an account that we may have closed) in error and published our approach to addressing terrorist content online. We also marked one year since our non-consensual pornography (or “revenge porn”) policy went into effect, and we used that milestone to create new guidance to help support victims. We continued our work in the WePROTECT Global Alliance to End Child Sexual Exploitation Online; stepped up efforts to combat tech support fraud, online bullying and harassment; and supported groups and causes across the globe focused on safeguarding children’s rights, protecting other vulnerable members of our global online population and evangelizing best practices.

In the final months of 2016, we previewed new research (post #1, post #2) that we will publish in full on Feb. 7, 2017, which is Safer Internet Day. The study, “Civility, Safety and Interaction Online – 2016,” polled teens and adults in 14 countries,[1] asking about their experiences and encounters with 17 different online risks across four categories: behavioral, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive. We hope these findings will serve as an evidentiary base for a global push toward “digital civility” – healthy behaviors for youth and adults alike, both online and off, grounded in respect, constructive interaction and inclusion. Such a shift will mark a further evolution in online safety, combining the focus areas of the early years of the new millennia with the fresh realities of the internet today.

In addition to the digital civility research, we plan to release other materials on Safer Internet Day 2017, including suggested smart practices for youth, teens and adults, educators, school officials, new technology companies and others. Watch our digital and social channels for updates and new releases between the start of the new year and Safer Internet Day.

While we’re encouraged by our new campaign for digital civility and some favorable early feedback, we don’t profess to have all the answers – not by any stretch. On the contrary, new concerns and fresh twists on age-old internet issues continue to surface regularly, with many problems presenting a delicate balancing of interests. So, as one step, we want to get back to basics and encourage civility and respect in all online interactions.

In the meantime ahead of our Safer Internet Day release, continue to visit our website and resources page on the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub.  There, we offer advice and guidance for dealing with almost any online situation. For more regular news and information, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We look forward to sharing more on SID, and here’s to making 2017 the safest digital New Year yet.

 

[1] Countries surveyed: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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