Microsoft Names Brad Smith President, Chief Legal Officer

Microsoft's top lawyer is promoted to a prominent new spot at the software giant as the company's court battle with the DOJ rages on.


Microsoft has appointed Brad Smith its president and chief legal officer, the Redmond, Wash., technology giant announced on Sept. 11. Smith has been with the company since 1993 and formerly served as Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president for Legal and Corporate Affairs.

In his updated bio, Microsoft said, "Smith plays a key role in representing the company externally and in leading the company's work on a number of critical issues including privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion, among others. He also leads a team of business, legal and corporate affairs professionals spanning 55 countries."

Additionally, he serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and chief compliance officer. Other notable appointments include a seat at Netflix's board of directors and chair of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.

Recently, Smith and his group have been embroiled in a legal battle with the U.S. government over emails stored at Microsoft's cloud data center in Ireland.

Microsoft is appealing last summer's decision by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordering the company to hand over emails sought by the U.S. Department of Justice that reside in a data center in Dublin, Ireland. With the backing of Apple, Amazon, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, and scores of other technology companies and trade organizations, Microsoft argues that the decision is an overreach of the of the U.S. government's evidence-gathering activities.

"In a nutshell, this case is about how we best protect privacy, ensure that governments keep people safe, and respect national sovereignty while preserving the global nature of the internet," Smith wrote on April 9 staking out his company's position. "Law enforcement needs to be able to do its job, but it needs to do it in a way that respects fundamental rights, including the personal privacy of people around the world and the sovereignty of other nations."

Commenting on the case during an Aug. 28 gathering with the media at Microsoft's headquarters, Smith said it is his company's position that "for 250 years, one principle has been clear: Search warrants reach to the border, they don't reach across a border. The police can't take a search warrant and unilaterally search in another country."

Another point of contention is how the U.S. government is classifying a customer's cloud data in this case, according to Smith. He said the "government is arguing that the email that people put into the cloud becomes in its entirety the business record of the cloud service provider and our argument is, 'No, we don't think that makes sense.'"

On Sept. 9, Microsoft lawyer Joshua Rosenkranz brought the same argument before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City. "The government's notion that our emails, or the emails of Irish citizens, are the equivalent of Microsoft's business records is very scary. It is foreign to any suggestion that U.S. courts have ever adopted," Rosenkranz said during the hearing.

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...