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Posts Tagged ‘#Microsoft’

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Privacy is a human right, we need a GDPR for the world: Microsoft CEO

January 28, 2019

This article is part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
24 Jan 2019
Ceri Parker
Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum

Against the backdrop of a “techlash”, the CEO of Microsoft called for new global norms on privacy, data and Artificial Intelligence.

Satya Nadella, who has been shifting Microsoft’s focus to cloud computing, said he would welcome clearer regulations as every company and industry grappled with the data age.
In a talk at Davos, he praised GDPR, the European regulation on data protection and privacy that came into force last year.

“My own point of view is that it’s a fantastic start in treating privacy as a human right. I hope that in the United States we do something similar, and that the world converges on a common standard.”

The default position had to be that people owned their own data, he said.

Privacy is just one controversial area for tech companies. Nadella also addressed the growing field of facial recognition.
“It’s a piece of technology that’s going to be democratized, that’s going to be prevalent, I can come up with 10 uses that are very virtuous and important and can improve human life, and 10 uses that would cause problems,” he said.

Microsoft’s own website lists the below as applications to celebrate:

“Police in New Delhi recently trialed facial recognition technology and identified almost 3,000 missing children in four days. Historians in the United States have used the technology to identify the portraits of unknown soldiers in Civil War photographs taken in the 1860s. Researchers successfully used facial recognition software to diagnose a rare, genetic disease in Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.”

But the dark sides include invasion of privacy and bias. While Microsoft has built a set of principles for the ethical use of AI, Nadella said that self-regulation was not enough.

“In the marketplace there’s no discrimination between the right use and the wrong use… We welcome any regulation that helps the marketplace not be a race to the bottom.”

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Written by

Ceri Parker, Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Microsoft Windows 10 breaches Dutch privacy law

October 16, 2017

Microsoft breaches data protection law in the Netherlands because of the way its Windows 10 operating system processes personal information, according to a report.
The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) also said users were not clearly informed about what data the technology giant was using.
There were four million active devices in Holland using Windows 10, it said.
Microsoft said it was “a priority” for the company to comply with Dutch law.
The DPA said that sanctions could be imposed if Microsoft failed to resolve the issues but did not detail what they might be.
The report claims that Windows 10 users “lack control of their data” because of the approach of Microsoft.
“It turns out that Microsoft’s operating system follows about every step you take on your computer. That results in an intrusive profile of yourself,” said Wilbert Tomesen, vice-chairman of the DPA.
“What does that mean? Do people know about this? Do they want this? Microsoft needs to give users a fair opportunity to decide about this themselves.”
Microsoft responded in a blog post.
It said that its latest update did give users of Windows 10 the opportunity to learn about privacy controls, and that users were informed in various documents and statements about why it processed data, including the performance of the device and apps installed.
“Windows collects data so that we can be responsive to your needs and interests,” wrote Marisa Rogers, Microsoft’s Windows and devices group privacy officer.
Ms Rogers later added that the company was “listening and responding” to feedback both from customers and regulators.
The technology giant also published a list of DPA claims that it said were inaccurate.

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Google And Microsoft Have Made A Pact To Protect Surveillance Capitalism

May 11, 2016

Two bitter rivals have agreed to drop mutual antitrust cases across the globe. Why? To fend off the greater regulatory threat of democratic oversight. Microsoft and Google, two of the world’s greatest monopolies, have been bitter rivals for nearly 20 years. But suddenly, in late April, they announced a startling accord. The companies have withdrawn all regulatory complaints against one another, globally. Rather than fighting their battles in public courts and commissions, they have agreed to privately negotiate.
This is a gentleman’s agreement. The specifics are secret, but the message on both sides is that the deal reflects a change in management philosophy. Microsoft’s new chief, Satya Nadella, is eager to push the vision of a dynamic, collaborative Microsoft, partnering with everyone from Apple to Salesforce.
The most dramatic of these partners is Google, a company that has long been considered Microsoft’s great arch-rival.
The wind started to change in September, just after Sundar Pichai became Google’s chief executive, when the two companies agreed to stop feuding over patents – a first step toward the current agreement. The common corporate line is that the companies want to compete on products, not court cases.
But this public relations gambit masks two far more interesting tales. One is about Microsoft and its desperate chase for relevance. The other is about Google, money and power. Both are part of a broader, deeply worrying narrative – a story about how tech companies are busy redrawing the lines around our lives, and facing little resistance in doing so.
Nobody ever wants to start a legal fight. Fractious, painful and wasteful, they divert huge resources, often for little productive gain. But this in itself fails to explain Microsoft’s decision to drop pending regulatory complaints against Google in Europe, Brazil and Argentina, as well as to cease funding and participating in lobby groups that it has backed for eight years, such as FairSearch.org and ICOMP, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace. So what does explain it?
It could be seen as a pragmatic move. Microsoft’s profits still exceed Google’s, but the ratio has been in decline for a decade. Meanwhile, since 2012, Apple has outstripped both companies combined (even if recent figures suggest this momentum might be slowing). A suite of regulatory enquiries into Google’s alleged abuses of its monopoly will continue even in Microsoft’s absence – both in places where Microsoft has filed complaints (Europe, Brazil, Argentina) and in others where it hasn’t, such as India.
With Microsoft’s withdrawal, it is clear that the remaining complainants in these fights – generally small, niche internet businesses – are legitimate critics in their own right. But then again, it takes serious coordination and resources to sustain and succeed in antitrust fights. Winning, especially in a broad and generally impactful manner, is a much taller order without a deep-pocketed supporter such as Microsoft.
But there’s another possible, rather more cunning, motive. Microsoft today is facing a very different business ecosystem to the one it dominated in the 1990s. It needs to adapt. And it appears to want to do so by positioning itself at the heart of what Satya Nadella describes as “systems of intelligence”.
Explaining this concept at Hannover Messe 2016, Nadella defined systems of intelligence as cloud-enabled digital feedback loops. They rely on the continuous flow of data from people, places and things, connected to a web of activity. And they promise unprecedented power to reason, predict and gain insight.
This is unbridled Big Data utopianism. And it is a vision that brings Microsoft squarely into Google territory. So maybe Microsoft is pulling out of regulatory battles because it doesn’t want to shoot itself in the foot. For emeritus Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff, this gets to the core of the Google-Microsoft deal.
Zuboff is a leading critic of what she calls “surveillance capitalism”, the monetization of free behavioral data acquired through surveillance and sold on to entities with an interest in your future behavior. As she explained to the Guardian: “Google discovered surveillance capitalism. Microsoft has been late to this game, but it has now waded in. Viewed in this way, its agreement with Google is predictable and rational.”
And here the most sinister upshot of Microsoft’s decision to stop needling Google with legal disputes becomes clear. “A key theme I write about is that surveillance capitalism has thrived in lawless space,” says Zuboff. “Regulations and laws are its enemy. Democratic oversight is a threat. Lawlessness is so vital to the surveillance capitalism project,” she continues, “that Google and Microsoft’s shared interest in freedom from regulation outweighs any narrower competitive interests they might have or once thought they had. They can’t insist to the public that they must remain unregulated, while trying to impose regulations on one another.”
What does all this mean for the cases pending against Google? For Maurice Stucke and Allen Grunes, American antitrust experts and co-authors of a comprehensive new book examining the deep and reaching implications of platform and data monopolies, Zuboff’s warning of a lawless alliance among tech giants such as Microsoft and Google only accentuates the demand for rigorous, intellectually led regulatory action. And when it comes to Google, the case for action is in their view clear.
“The one thing that any antitrust regime absolutely has to do, if it is to be effective, is to stand up to the most powerful companies of the time,” explains Grunes. “Take that away and antitrust ceases to be meaningful.
“The antitrust authorities in the US and EU did that in the case of Microsoft. It required brains, resources and relentless pursuit and commitment.”
Yet only the Europeans, he argues, seem to have the intellectual leadership to be doing it in the case of Google. “The failure of the FTC to take meaningful action against Google is without question one of the great failures of all time.”
Microsoft and Google’s new deal to stop fighting each other is an interesting, strategic corporate move. But it is a move accompanied by a much stronger, deeper play: to collect and capitalize data – including data about us, our behaviors, and our interactions. The challenge for regulators and citizens is complex but essential – and has only just begun.

By Julia Powels

www.theguardian.com

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Microsoft shows off just how much data it’s collecting from Windows 10 users

January 6, 2016

Despite its continued insistence that Windows 10 isn’t spying on anyone, Microsoft has done little to convince the majority of concerned users that its latest operating system isn’t taking more data than it needs.

In order to reinforce its claim, Microsoft updated its privacy policy to clarify how and when the OS utilizes user data, but the company took two steps back this week when it published an enthusiastic blog post filled with data mined from users.

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On Monday morning, Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate VP of the Windows and Devices Group, revealed that Windows 10 is now active on an astonishing 200 million devices. Its low price of “free” is clearly the primary factor contributing to its rapid growth, but it doesn’t hurt that the software is leaps and bounds more user-friendly than its predecessor.

But in order to illustrate just how popular Windows 10 has become, Microsoft felt the need to share some milestones:

People have spent over 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December alone.
Over 44.5 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in just the last month.
Over 2.5 billion questions asked of Cortana since launch.
Around 30% more Bing search queries per Windows 10 device vs. prior versions of Windows.
Over 82 billion photos viewed within the Windows 10 Photo app.
Gaming continues to grow on Windows 10 – in 2015, gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games on Windows 10.
Gamers have streamed more than 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs.
Admittedly, these are interesting statistics. That’s a lot of Xbox One gaming on Windows 10 PCs! But it’s easy to see why Martin Brinkmann of gHacks might find these data points troublesome.

“The statistics indicate that Microsoft may be collecting more data than initially thought,” writes Brinkmann. “While it is unclear what data is exactly collected, it is clear that the company is collecting information about the use of individual applications and programs on Windows at the very least.”

Data collection to a degree is inevitable. It happens on every connected device on the planet. What’s especially worrisome about Windows 10 is that we don’t know what’s being collected, and there’s no easy way to turn it off (if there’s even any way at all). We can only hope that while Microsoft celebrates its 2015 milestones, it looks to become more transparent in 2016.

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