[LINK] Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Sep 14 22:45:03 EST 2010


At 18:52 +1000 13/9/10, Kim Holburn wrote:
>https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/world/europe/12raids.html?_r=2&ref=russia
>Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

I suspect a lot of people were seriously unimpressed with this.

I asked around.  As I'm sure others did too.

Within a short time, a blog-post appeared from MS General Counsel.

One statement is that "Microsoft will create a new unilateral 
software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal 
copies of our products ... that runs automatically from Microsoft to 
NGOs and covers the software already installed on their PCs.  We'll 
make this new, non-transferable license applicable to NGOs in a 
number of countries, including in Russia.  We will also make it 
available to appropriate journalists' organizations in order to 
include small newspapers and independent media.  Because it's 
automatic, they won't need to take any steps to benefit from its 
terms.  ... [And] we will publish and circulate to relevant 
authorities in Russia the terms of our newly announced NGO Software 
License".

Some NGOs won't want to take up the offer, because it involves 
spyware-encrusted OS and apps.  But plenty of NGOs (1) already use MS 
products and (2) operate in politically hostile contexts;  so it 
matters to them.

And even an inveterate sceptic sees it as positive that MS considered that:
(a) this needed to be acted on a.s.p., and
(b) it required positive signals even while the details remain murky.

__________________________________________________________________________


Anti-Piracy Enforcement and NGOs
13 Sep 2010 9:03 AM  [But where?]
[Assuming Redmond, which is UT-7, then Tue 14 Sep 02:03 UT+10]
http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2010/09/13/anti-piracy-enforcement-and-ngos.aspx

A story in yesterday's New York Times reports on anti-piracy 
enforcement actions in Russia that have been used for more nefarious 
purposes than protecting intellectual property rights.

As General Counsel for Microsoft, it was not the type of story that 
felt good to read.  It described instances in which authorities had 
used piracy charges concerning Microsoft software to confiscate 
computers and harass non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others 
engaged in public advocacy.  It suggested that there had been cases 
when our own counsel at law firms had failed to help clear things up 
and had made matters worse instead.

Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times 
described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any 
attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political 
advocacy or pursue improper personal gain.  We are moving swiftly to 
seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior.

Some of our internal teams around the world were already looking at 
these issues, and they had turned to human rights advocates to ask 
for advice.  We pulled these internal teams together to assess the 
issues raised in the New York Times story, and yesterday morning we 
had our internal counsel in Moscow, Paris, and London on the phone 
with a number of our senior Legal and Corporate Affairs personnel 
from the Seattle area.

Our first step is clear-cut.  We must accept responsibility and 
assume accountability for our anti-piracy work, including the good 
and the bad.  At this point some of the specific facts are less clear 
than we would like.  We will retain an international law firm that 
has not been involved in the anti-piracy work to conduct an 
independent investigation, report on its conclusions, and advise us 
of new measures we should take.

We don't, however, want simply to wait for the outcome of this review.

Yesterday we therefore focused on two principal questions:

*   Can we do more with our existing software donation program for 
non-government organizations to protect human rights groups and 
journalists from unwarranted piracy accusations in these situations?

*   Are there additional steps that we can take to stop individuals 
who are fraudulently pretending to act on our behalf in order to 
extort organizations with threats of piracy charges?

As we talked through each issue, it became clear that there are some 
immediate steps we can take to start to improve the situation 
markedly.  We therefore decided to pursue the following:

To prevent non-government organizations from falling victim to 
nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement, 
Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that 
will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products.

This step makes sense for a couple of reasons.  First, it builds on 
our existing work to provide NGOs with donated software, which we've 
been doing for many years in the United States and have expanded over 
the past few years to over 30 countries, including Russia, where we 
launched the Infodonor program last year.  Under our existing program 
each NGO can obtain free of charge six different Microsoft software 
titles for up to 50 PCs.  They can then obtain 300 new licenses every 
other year.  In the past year, we donated software with a fair market 
value of over $390 million to over 42,000 NGOs around the world. 
(Clearly, we're trying to donate our software to NGOs, not focus on 
them as anti-piracy targets.)

One challenge, however, is that some NGOs in a number of countries, 
including Russia, are unaware of our program or do not know how to 
navigate its logistical processes, which involves ordering the 
donated software through a Microsoft partner.  We'll solve this 
problem by providing a unilateral NGO Software License that runs 
automatically from Microsoft to NGOs and covers the software already 
installed on their PCs.  We'll make this new, non-transferable 
license applicable to NGOs in a number of countries, including in 
Russia.  We will also make it available to appropriate journalists' 
organizations in order to include small newspapers and independent 
media.  Because it's automatic, they won't need to take any steps to 
benefit from its terms.

We'd still like to move NGOs to our existing donation program over 
time, because it better enables organizations to keep their software 
up-to-date and secure.  For this reason, this new unilateral software 
license will last until 2012, giving us plenty of time to help them 
move to the standard program.  (And if we learn that they need more 
time, we can always make that arrangement.)

The second reason this step makes sense is because it cuts in one 
swoop the Gordian knot that otherwise is getting in the way of our 
desired handling of these legal issues.  The law in Russia (and many 
other countries) requires that one must provide truthful information 
about the facts in response to a subpoena or other judicial process. 
With this new software license, we effectively change the factual 
situation at hand.  Now our information will fully exonerate any 
qualifying NGO, by showing that it has a valid license to our 
software.

Of course, to be effective this information needs to make its way 
through the legal process and into the courtroom.

For this reason, we're creating in Russia a new NGO Legal Assistance 
Program focused specifically on helping NGOs document to the 
authorities that this new software license proves that they have 
legal software.

To distribute information broadly across the country, we will publish 
and circulate to relevant authorities in Russia the terms of our 
newly announced NGO Software License and provide information about it 
on the web.  We'll also publish contact details so NGOs and others 
can alert Microsoft to any questions from authorities regarding how 
its coverage applies to them.

In addition, upon request by an NGO, the relevant authorities or, as 
appropriate at our own initiative, Microsoft, will provide a letter 
setting out the terms of the NGO Software License and will affirm 
that the NGO is covered by its terms.

This will thereby make clear that the NGO is not using illegal 
Microsoft products and that there is no basis for any claim of 
copyright infringement in the matter.

We'll also implement a number of other specific steps to ensure that 
our outside lawyers are well-trained in administering the NGO 
Software License.

During the past year we instituted mandatory training for our 40 
outside counsel in Russia, and this will take that work a step 
further.  Finally, Microsoft internal counsel in Russia will take a 
more direct role in engaging with relevant authorities and will 
travel wherever necessary in Russia to meet personally with local 
authorities to explain the coverage of the NGO Software License.

Finally, we will undertake new steps to protect against third parties 
pretending to represent Microsoft in order to extort money for 
illegal software use.  Our team in Russia had already started work to 
address this by creating a list on the web of our authorized counsel, 
so that anyone can review this and readily check someone's claim that 
they represent Microsoft.  This is a good step, but we can and should 
do more.  For that reason, I've asked our team to develop a new 
program that can begin functioning next month, and I've told them 
that we'll provide the budget and resources needed to get this 
working effectively.

Ultimately, our goals are straightforward.  We aim to reduce the 
piracy and counterfeiting of software, and we aim to do this in a 
manner that respects fundamental human rights.  Piracy is a very real 
problem.  It costs jobs and business growth and can cheat consumers 
who think they're paying for genuine products.  We know for a fact 
that the reduction of software piracy has breathed new life into 
Russia's own software industry and has created new jobs in our 
industry, both at Russian software companies and for U.S. software 
exporters.  But none of this should create a pretext for the 
inappropriate pursuit of NGOs, newspapers, or other participants in 
civil society.  And we certainly don't want to contribute to any such 
effort, even inadvertently.

At the end of the day, it's clear that we have a responsibility to 
take new steps to address this situation, working in partnership with 
the various stakeholders concerned about this issue.   The steps 
described above should start to move us in that direction.  If 
needed, we will take further steps to ensure that they are effective.

Posted by Brad Smith
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND MICROSOFT GENERAL COUNSEL


-- 
Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
			            
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University


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