Microsoft often claims that it takes a proactive approach to protecting the privacy of its customers. However, there is often inconsistencies in the company’s message. For example, this summer saw shareholder proposals that shine a light on Microsoft surveillance apps that seem to fly in the face of Microsoft’s claimed values.
In response, Microsoft says it is commissioning a third-party review that will examine potential conflicts in the company’s values and products.
With this response, the shareholder proposals have been closed. Bloomberg reports Microsoft will use the review to also look at how its surveillance technology impacts human rights. Below is the statement Microsoft issued regarding the matter:
“In response to shareholder requests, Microsoft Corp. will commission an independent, third-party assessment to identify, understand, assess, and address actual or potential adverse human rights impacts of the company’s products and services and business relationships with regard to law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and other government contracts. The assessment will include consultation with BIPOC communities, including immigrants, and other groups representing communities most impacted by Microsoft’s surveillance products, law enforcement and government contracts.”
Microsoft says the review will be complete and its findings released in 2022.
This is not the first time Microsoft’s actions oppose its claimed values. Earlier this year, we reported on a lawsuit by residents in Illinois against Microsoft and Amazon. The action claims the company’s did not seek consent before using facial recognition technology to store and analyze biometric information. You may remember both companies already faced legal action over use of facial recognition in Illinois during 2020.
Microsoft has taken a firm and respectable stance regarding facial recognition technology. The company has called for concise regulation of the tech and has refused to work with companies thought to have shared facial data.
Shareholders are showing they can play a pivotal role in guiding Microsoft towards better customer care. This month, shareholder proposals pushed the company to commit to making it easier for consumers to repair their Surface devices.
Tip of the day: Windows Aero Shake is a handy feature that lets you quickly reduce screen clutter with a shake of an app’s title bar. Doing so minimizes all windows other than the one in focus, allowing you to focus solely on what’s at hand. Another wiggle lets you undo Aero Shake, maximizing the other Windows again so you can continue working.
Unfortunately, the feature can also have unintended consequences. Those who move their windows about or have dual monitors may notice that they’re accidentally activating Windows shaking. Luckily, enabling or disabling Aero shake isn’t too hard.