Microsoft released an unusual blog post on Thursday, a 3,000-word manifesto by recently appointed company President Brad Smith that covers everything from the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, to Edward Snowden and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The post comes complete with an audio recording and plenty of animated graphics. It goes to great lengths to lay out Microsoft’s views on the future of technology, government spying and what companies need to do to protect their customers’ privacy.
“Microsoft needs to go beyond standing up for the rights of businesses and governments; we need to be a voice for people,” Smith wrote.
The post also offers some specific steps the company will take with its cloud business in order to stand by its commitments to users. It will include security safeguards in contracts, process customer data “only as they instruct us,” let people know when the government is trying to access data, and continue to be more transparent.
It also discusses Microsoft’s ongoing litigation, including a closely watched case in which the company is refusing to turn over to the U.S. government emails that are stored in an Irish datacenter.
“This is important not just to Microsoft and its products, partners and customers, but to everyone who uses the Internet,” Smith wrote. “This is about the future of technology. With your help, we can create a world in which people can trust the technology they use – a world in which technology continues to empower.”
Thursday’s blog post dovetails with a broader push Microsoft has been making to build more external relationships and become more vocal on policy issues. That was a big part of Smith’s job when he was appointed Microsoft’s chief legal officer and its only company-wide president in September.
Last week Smith announced a sweeping reorganization of the company’s legal team. That included sending longtime privacy lawyer John Frank to Brussels to head up Microsoft’s EU government affairs unit, specifically focused on the ongoing debate over there around privacy and security.