Microsoft comments on data retention

Software powerhouse and Hotmail purveyor responds to proposals regarding data retention requirements.

In a statement sent to CNET, Microsoft responded to proposals regarding data retention requirements by saying it supported working with law enforcement but that the issue isn't a simple one. Here, verbatim, is the statement:

• We strongly support Attorney General Gonzales' interest in assuring that the Internet is safe for everyone, especially children and families. Along with other companies, Microsoft did meet with the attorney general on the morning of May 26 to listen to his concerns regarding data retention, especially regarding child exploitation investigations.

• Like other Internet firms, Microsoft already responds to legally authorized process from law enforcement for evidence, including requirements to preserve data under section 2703(f) of title 18, pending issuance of a subpoena or other process. This allows law enforcement to request the preservation of broad sets of data for specific targeted accounts of those suspected of criminal behavior for up to 180 days, and service providers MUST comply.

• Microsoft is committed to protecting the safety of children online, and understands and supports law enforcement's efforts to investigate and prosecute those who would exploit our children. We report illegal content to proper authorities, and work closely with law enforcement agencies to provide technical tools and training on information technology and investigative techniques. We support the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography, which is working to share information about Web sites that sell child pornography and stop payments passing to them. And earlier this year, Microsoft joined the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and other participants in support of model legislation relating to child pornography.

• But data retention is a complicated issue with implications not only for efforts to combat child pornography but also for security, privacy, safety and availability of low-cost or free Internet services. We are reviewing our retention policies in light of European Union data retention regulations and look forward to working with the U.S. Justice Department to discuss the best methods for balancing law enforcement requirements, legitimate business needs (such as fraud detection and prevention), and privacy and security concerns for our customers.

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