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Microsoft will put authorities and police contracts via unbiased human rights overview

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Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash. campus in December 2020. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Microsoft will commission an independent human-rights review of its technology contracts with government and law enforcement agencies, seeking to address concerns from shareholders and employees.

“The assessment will include consultation with BIPOC communities, including immigrants, and other groups representing communities most impacted by Microsoft’s surveillance products, law enforcement and government contracts,” the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg reports that a shareholder group has withdrawn the proposal that promoted the company to take this step. Similar requests made to Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet have not yet been successful.

Insider reported last week that Microsoft, Amazon and Google have repeatedly used third-party companies and subcontractors “to sidestep public scrutiny and work with US immigration agencies” without widespread public awareness of the work.

Microsoft will hold its annual meeting via webcast on Nov. 30. Its annual proxy statement, including shareholder proposals and executive compensation details, should be released soon, based on the schedule in years past.

Update: Here’s the full statement from Microsoft.

“In response to shareholder requests, Microsoft Corp. will commission an independent, third-party assessment to ‘identify, understand, assess, and address actual or potential adverse human rights impacts’ of the company’s products and services and business relationships with regard to law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and other government contracts. The assessment will include consultation with BIPOC communities, including immigrants, and other groups representing communities most impacted by Microsoft’s surveillance products, law enforcement and government contracts. The report will be made public. This report will identify broad considerations to help inform our ongoing work with government agencies, it is not a review of specific contracts.”

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