Microsoft takes on the government again, this time focusing on the international community
Microsoft and the government are not strangers -- they have met in court, most notably during anti-trust hearings. More recently, the General Council of the company took matters into his own hands when he deemed the US government an "advanced persistent threat". Now Brad Smith is back for round two.
This time the lawyer is aiming at the upcoming World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland. Smith posted a missive today regarding the conference and calling for an international convention to address recent concerns.
He touched on the press conference given by President Obama, which we covered here, though he was much kinder than my colleague Mark Wilson was regarding the news that came out of that. "We appreciate the steps the President announced, which represent positive progress on key issues including privacy protections for non-US citizens", Smith stated.
He explains how tensions can arise during times of crisis, referencing the Napoleonic Wars, Civil War, and John Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts, even the US internment of Japanese-American citizens during the Second World War.
"The issues this time are even more complicated today than in the past. The War against Terrorism is more permanent than these prior wars. Hence, a moment has passed, but an era of concern continues", Smith explains.
The lawyer goes on the discuss international values, and English Common Law, and calls for an International Convention to embrace the common values of all world citizens, that could offer a resolution for both sides of this argument.
Smith explains that the company understands the needs of law enforcement in cases where criminal activity is known, stating "we should create new processes that promote public safety by facilitating timely access to data while ensuring appropriate privacy protections for individuals. A new convention could achieve this by creating new processes that supplement the existing MLAT rules".
The entire situation is complicated, to put things mildly, but Smith, for his part, does seem genuine in his efforts. We have no way of knowing if anything he calls for will be put into motion, but at least the effort is there. We can only hope he speaks for his company in this matter. Now it's a game of waiting to see if his words are heeded.