Microsoft Reports Progress in Cloud Privacy and Sustainability

The latest Citizenship Report details some of Microsoft's progress and successes across a wide range of societal issues, from cloud privacy to the environment.

Microsoft cloud privacy

Microsoft published the 2015 Citizenship Report for the fiscal year 2015 on its new Transparency Hub this week, announced the software giant's president and top lawyer, Brad Smith.

"As we work to create more personal computing, build the intelligent cloud and reinvent productivity and business processes, our citizenship commitments and actions play an important part in earning and keeping the trust of our customers, investors and others," blogged Smith. Those efforts include prioritizing cloud data privacy, particularly in a post-Snowden world.

Smith noted that during Microsoft's FY15, the Redmond, Wash., company became "the first major cloud provider independently verified for meeting the world's first international standard for cloud privacy (called ISO/IEC 27018)." Earlier this year, the company revealed that the British Standards Institution had certified that its Azure cloud computing platform met the standard's stringent cloud data transfer, security and privacy requirements.

The U.S. government's controversial Ireland email case was highlighted in the 71-page report, as an example of how Microsoft is championing data privacy rights. "Throughout FY15, we engaged in an ongoing legal challenge to the US government's attempt to mandate that we turn over a customer's email content stored in our datacenter located in Ireland," stated the report.

On the environmental front, Microsoft said it met its 100 percent renewable energy pledge by purchasing over 3.2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy. For FY16, the company plans to further increase its direct purchases of renewable energy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named Microsoft the second-largest consumer of clean energy in the United States, Smith said.

Microsoft's hardware is also kinder to the environment. "In FY15, Microsoft certified its first ENERGY STAR and EPEAT registered product, Surface Pro 3, when the standards were revised to bring tablets into scope," the report stated.

Microsoft Research is getting in on the act as well. The division's "Earth, Energy, and Environment collaboration projects focus on the development and adoption of technologies for scientific visualization and data management—especially technologies that accelerate insight into the environmental and earth sciences," the company stated in the report.

Microsoft's philanthropic endeavors crossed the billion-dollar mark for the second year in a row. The company "made more than $922 million in technology donations to more than 120,000 nonprofit organizations globally, and Microsoft employees contributed $117 million to nearly 20,000 nonprofits through our corporate giving campaign," CEO Satya Nadella said in a letter included in the report.

In terms of education, Microsoft continues to expand the reach of YouthSpark, a program that promotes computer science in the classroom.

"This year we surpassed the three-year goal for our YouthSpark initiative by creating opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship for 307 million youth worldwide," Nadella said. "Over the next three years we are committing $75 million to the next generation of our YouthSpark initiative to increase access to computer science education for all youth worldwide, especially those from under-represented backgrounds."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...