Microsoft President Blogs on Urgent Need to Update Data Privacy Laws

smith-bw-print-209x314.jpgToday, in a new blog post, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith argues that privacy is a human right and warned that without policy changes we could see "a return to the digital dark ages" where data is segregated by nation. This blog was prompted by a top European court's decision invalidating the U.S.- EU “Safe Harbor” which is an international legal agreement that has been in place for over 15 years to “enable companies to do business and serve consumers.”    

As Brad puts it, “legal rules that were written at the dawn of the personal computer are no longer adequate for an era with ubiquitous mobile devices connected to the cloud.” His blog makes it clear, the recent ruling actually creates the opportunity to strengthen privacy protections for people and organizations on both sides of the Atlantic.

"We need solutions that will work not just for large tech enterprises but for small companies across the economy, and for consumers most of all. If we’re going to ensure that data more broadly can move across the Atlantic on a sustainable basis, we need to put in place a new type of trans-Atlantic agreement. This agreement needs to protect people’s privacy rights pursuant to their own laws, while ensuring that law enforcement can keep the public safe through new international processes to obtain prompt and appropriate access to personal information pursuant to proper legal standards."

What Can You Do?  Please Take Two Steps

  • Please read Brad Smith's blog and share it out on social media. The more you share this out with your networks, the broader this important message gets communicated.
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IAMCP SoCal North Hosts VFI to Highlight Importance of Advocacy

On October 5, the SoCal North Chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) hosted an "Advocacy Kickoff" event at the Microsoft Store at the Westfield Topanga in Canoga Park, California.  Thank you to IAMCP and VFI leaders Bill Hole and Veronica Place for pulling this together. 

It was a great event, with many new Voices for Innovation members in attendance. Guest speakers included California State Assembly Member Matt Dababneh (D-45), Microsoft's head of Government Affairs in California Robyn Hines, and VFI Director Jonathan Friebert.


Assembly Member Dababneh discussed the value of technology and innovation to the California economy. He said that government had a key role to play in helping keep data and online communications private and secure.  He also said that elected officials need to hear from more technology leaders and encouraged those in attendance to get involved.


Robyn Hines highlighted the importance of tech professionals being advocates for innovation with elected officials. She also discussed some of the activities of Microsoft in California to support technology education as well as informed the group about upcoming community opportunities for local partners to participate in.

Jonathan Friebert provided an overview of what VFI does, and how participation helps tech partners make professional connections and foster positive public policies. He also discussed key federal issues that will impact tech businesses and future innovation, including trade, patent reform, investing in STEM education, cloud computing taxes, and online privacy and security. 


Would you like to host a similar event at a Microsoft store or learn more about VFI? Drop us an email at to let us know.


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Courts and Congress Focus on Digital Privacy

Over the past two weeks, digital privacy has been in the headlines.

On September 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments concerning Microsoft's challenge to a federal demand that the company provide U.S. authorities with emails stored abroad. During the hearing, the U.S. asserted its right to access email and data anywhere in the world, if the cloud technology provider is headquartered in the U.S. Of note, during the hearing, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Gerard Lynch said, "It would be helpful if Congress would engage" on the issue. Key coverage of the hearing includes:

Then, on September 16, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith wrote that "the focus on privacy... could not come at a better or more important time. With each passing month it is becoming even clearer that our nation’s antiquated privacy laws need to be reformed. This is the time for Congress to act."

You can read Smith's complete post on Microsoft on the Issues, "Passing ECPA Reform – It Has Never Been More Important."

In his post, Smith also underscores the need to pass the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act, which was also championed during the hearing by its sponsor, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

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Microsoft Warrant Case Update

On September 9, 2015 the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan heard the arguments in Microsoft Search Warrant Case.  Microsoft's Digital Constitution site posted a helpful blog summarizing the Microsoft perspective in the case. 

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We're Growing with Help from Microsoft Chicago

Microsoft Chicago ran a great post encouraging Chicagoland tech professionals to get involved with Voices for Innovation. Here's the post in its entirety... 

Tools for Engagement: Voices for Innovation

Feeling frustrated about getting your voice across to a broader constituency? Need to hang out a bit more with people who have ideas on how to positively impact the tech sector and Chicago’s economic development? We might just have an answer for you.

Voices for Innovation (VFI) is a national education and advocacy organization whose members engage directly with policymakers to support pro-innovation public policies. Member-advocates include everyday Americans and technology professionals representing businesses of all sizes. While casting a wide net, VFI also focuses on helping Microsoft Partners share their stories, their ideas, and their perspectives with elected officials who are ultimately responsible for setting 21st-century digital public policies.  

VFI is important to Chicago because it helps raise visibility to all concerned citizens and business people about the importance of being involved and having your voice heard. It’s a great resource to help you learn about “hot” issues locally, quickly communicate your perspective to your elected officials, and build a local network of other informed, participative colleagues.

VFI builds on the idea that technology leaders in Chicago need an avenue to tell their story. This is important because technology is not always used to its full potential to help support all our communities. The “democratization” of technology helps all our neighborhoods—and our neighbors—equally participate in our great city. Through VFI, Microsoft has created a no-cost platform to help communities stay informed on public policy issues and engage with those that impact tech policy.

Over the coming year, we will be bringing to your attention key issues that impact the tech community and Chicago’s business community and citizens. We look forward to your perspective and a healthy debate.

We encourage you to join this dialogue by getting involved with VFI. The platform will connect you with other partners and like-minded colleagues, and help you share different perspectives with policymakers in city halls, state capitals, and even at the White House. VFI community members are engaged technology business leaders who are interested in making a making a difference in Chicago and across the United States.  They share a common desire to use technology to shape the civic landscape, improve civic health and create a better community. We look forward to having you join our community!

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VFI Spotlighted at WPC Keynote

Once again, Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference—this year in Orlando from July 12-16—proved to be a whirlwind of great sessions and meetings, great parties, and great fun. The VFI Team talked with hundreds of partners, and our hope is that everyone we met will get more involved with our advocacy efforts to support technology and innovation in the halls of government.

We engaged is several activities—and were gratified that our efforts were highlighted from the Vision Keynote stage. Here’s a wrap-up of VFI highlights from the conference:

Microsoft EVP and General Counsel Brad Smith Says Take Action through VFI

At the Wednesday Vision Keynote, Microsoft’s Brad Smith—the company’s head lawyer and public policy leader—gave a dynamic presentation about the need to build trust in tech. It was great to hear him encourage partners to visit Voices for Innovation and write government officials to support digital privacy and the LEADS Act. “With your help, we want to create a future where people can get up in the morning and know that they can trust the technology that they use.” he stated, and added, “If people don’t trust tech, they won’t invest it.”


Classic Rockers Share the Stage with VFI at the Community Hub

On Wednesday, members of the VFI Team and our Advisory Task Force spoke at the Community Hub about the importance of winning public policies that strengthen cloud privacy. We highlighted the need for Congress to pass the LEADS Act, legislation that will give digital communications the same legal protections provided to paper records and communications. Our presentation was enlivened by a performance of the classic Rolling Stones tune, “Get Off of My Cloud,” by special guests “Mick” and “Keith.”


People for Innovation Party


VFI was proud to co-host the People for Innovation party at the swanky Ritz-Carlton Orlando. This event celebrated partners who work to empower their communities and local businesses through technology. We made a lot of new friends at this fun social event.

We’re already looking forward to WPC16 in Toronto—though partners can connect with VFI all year round by participating in our webinars, engaging in VFI advocacy efforts, and taking a tech advocacy leadership role in local communities.w friends at this fun social event.

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Meet VFI's Advisory Task Force

Twelve of Voices for Innovation's most engaged members form the organization's 2015 Advisory Task Force. Long-time Microsoft partners, our Task Force leaders hail from California, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington DC.

Members of the Task Force bring their diverse small business perspective to discussion of tech public policies. Task Force members also serve as ambassadors for VFI to their local tech and broader business communities.

Even before we formed the Task Force, these highly engaged VFI members have been active in supporting public policies that foster innovation and business growth. They have met with their federal and state legislators and visited the White House for a meeting with Administration officials. One Task Force member -- Naomi Moneypenny -- testified at a Senate hearing about the value of software patents. Several Task Force members participated in a trip to China this spring.

WP_20150414_11_01_47_Pro.jpg VFI Advisory Task Force members meeting at Microsoft's Redmond campus.

We're grateful to have such a terrific group to help lead our organization. Do you want to serve on the Task Force in the future? Let us know and get more involved in our activities. 


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VFI Featured on Microsoft's U.S. Partner Blog

ConQuest Technology Services founder and CEO Jon Sastre has a great piece up on the U.S. Partner blog about his participation in Voices for Innovation. He encourages partners to connect with us at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference next month in Orlando. Jon is also a member of VFI's Advisory Task Force. Check out the video below where Jon talks about the business value of his engagement with VFI. Thanks, Jon!

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RSVP Now for Our Worldwide Partner Conference "Know Before You Go" Webinar

Voices for Innovation is excited to be part of the 2015 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando on July 12-16. Please join us for a 30-minute briefing about our planned activities at WPC and how you can connect with us at the event. We’ll also hear from partner members of our Advisory Task Force who will highlight their experiences with VFI and talk about the benefits of participation.

VFI WPC15 “Know Before You Go” Webinar
With VFI Director Jonathan Friebert and VFI Advisory Task Force Leaders
Wednesday, June 24, 10-10:30AM PDT | 1-1:30PM EDT
We hope you can join us -- and please share this event with others.
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We’ll Be at Microsoft Ignite!

Microsoft Ignite is just two weeks away—and Voices for Innovation will be on hand.

Ignite is Microsoft’s new unified enterprise technology event, bringing together the Management Summit, the Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and TechEd conferences. Ignite takes place at Chicago’s McCormick Place and runs May 4-8.

Because Ignite brings together Microsoft customers and partners, we thought it would be a great opportunity for VFI to highlight key technology policy issues that impact the entire Microsoft ecosystem.

Customers and partners face many of the same challenges, such as finding tech talent to improve operations, drive business growth, and push the envelope of innovation. We’ll also be talking about cloud privacy and educating Ignite attendees about the LEADS Act, a key proposal in Congress to extend privacy protections to data and email stored at data centers anywhere in the world.

If you’ll be at Ignite, please look for us in the Expo Hall. We also encourage you to let your customers know about VFI and our policy efforts, and urge them to visit us at Ignite and learn more.



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