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Microsoft Businesses Government Your Rights Online

Microsoft Promotes New Trade Secrets Bill (thestack.com) 28

An anonymous reader writes: A Microsoft lawyer has put forward the company's conviction that the Defend Trade Secrets Act 2015, currently being debated at the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, is necessary to protect digital businesses which are now hamstrung by having to pursue trade secret infractions — a federal crime — within state law. Though the bill, revised from its failed 2014 submission, contains necessary updates for the inevitable shortcomings of existing 1979/1985 legislation regarding trade secrets, its opponents are more interested in the way it would extend ex parte seizure law to federalize private information and data in corporate plaintiffs' lawsuits and extend the possibility for closed hearings and media injunctions.
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Microsoft Promotes New Trade Secrets Bill

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  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @05:13PM (#51044229)
    ...that is most odorous. It is usually the minor provisions, tucked into the bill by special interests, that are the most damaging to people and most beneficial to corporations.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @05:24PM (#51044309)

    >> it would extend ex parte seizure law to federalize private information

    In Engrish, please.

    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      the "victim" can force the "offender" to submit data (private information) to the benevolent govt agency of choice.
      well at least that is what i think it means but i am probably wrong.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Ex parte" orders are orders by a judge without the party present. "Ex parte seizure" is a step between cops stealing whatever you've got without warrant, due process, or much oversight at all (aka Civil Forfeiture) and being found guilty of a crime and having punishment handed down to you. At least in this case a judge has been convinced that it's necessary to seize whatever item without you having a chance to defend yourself so some sort of warrant and/or oversight is present.

      • The idea is to seize the computers sending the illegally-obtained data before it gets out. This touches on several parts of the First Amendment. Speech for one, as long as you aren't the one who stole the info, the government can't shut you up.

        The other is the lesser-used part about freedom of the press, which is less about a 1940s high pants quick talker with a "Press" card tucked in his hat band and more about actual printing presses -- the mechanical means of mass production of speech for distribution,

        • Wait it isn't even illegally-obtained info, my bad. This is even worse.

        • So whoever owns a federal judge claims someone has their secret code (without revealing the code they claim is being infringed, because it's secret) and so gets the judge to seize the contents of the other person's computer. Then the judge owner's employee points at some of the seized code and says "See right here - that's not his idea. That's our secret."
    • To my understandings, it means that trade secrets are put under federal protection during a litigation, i.e. newspapers cannot talk about them. That is, Barnes&Nobles says that Microsoft extorts money "demanding equal to or greater fees than those it demanded for an entire operating system, Windows Phone, even though the patents covered only trivial and non-essential design elements of the Android user interface", but media outlets cannot talk about it, because what Microsoft requests is a "trade secret
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @05:57PM (#51044497)

    Under this bill, businesses (Microsoft) could prevent release of security holes, and possible remediation. This has already happened a few times, (Adobe?) but it would put the power of the Federal Gov't behind gagging security researchers.
    Also, reverse engineer a file format? Gag order coming your way. Libre Office will wither, because the compatible formats will be changed, and reverse engineering will be prevented under "Trade Secrets".
    So I totally understand why Microsoft is trying to write a bill for themselves.

  • by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @06:10PM (#51044579)

    from the /. title and summary:

    Microsoft Promotes New Trade Secrets Bill [which] ... would extend ex parte seizure law to federalize private information and data in corporate plaintiffs' lawsuits and extend the possibility for closed hearings and media injunctions.

    from the opening sentence of Marco Rubio's guest column [hotair.com] warning against government-funded corporate bailouts and appearing today at HotAir.com [hotair.com]:

    For too long, under both Democrats and Republicans, Washington and big businesses have teamed up to rig our economy to their benefit, often at the expense of everyday Americans.

    So, more rigging underway here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perchance would these be called patents? No? Then why is the government involved?

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @06:16PM (#51044625)

    We need simple language legislation now. You shouldn't have to be a lawyer or need one to read a law and understand how you're fucked over by it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This seems like uSoft trying to have their cake and eat it to.

    A company can get legal idea protection from the public in exchange for disclosure through a patent .
    That is in theory a good bargain for both parties.
    Trolls make practice another matter.

    This bill seems to be about a company getting the protection without the disclosure and time limit.

    This is contrary to history. Coke chose to keep their formula secret.
    This got away from the time limit, but has always risked somebody figuring it out.
    Some have co

    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:11PM (#51045493)

      This seems like uSoft trying to have their cake and eat it to.


      Trade secrets, once disclosed, are no longer secret. If your idea does not merit patent protection, then use a trade secret as long as it holds -- but no longer. If your idea merits patent protection patent it -- *and disclose it*, in exchange for federal protection *for a limited time*.

      Do *NOT* under any circumstances, make legal changes to allow trade secrets to become the moral equivalent of a patent in perpetuity.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @07:43PM (#51045229) Journal

    It's another example of legislation framed in Australia and then exported to America. After editing the proposed act for compatibility with the American constitution it then becomes a Bill proposed to congress.

    Don't let it pass. It has some really nasty provisions against using encryption by classing it as a 'controlled munition'. If it follows the Australian model then you will find that it has some pretty unpleasant provisions that grants the government the capacity to appropriate any software you may have written and then make you criminally liable for using the software you created. I tried, but not enough people here care or understand.

    Whilst it is an unpopular to talk about IT unions here, this is one of the things they are tasked to be on the look out for. Frankly, I'd prefer to pay mandatory fees and have someone else do this so I could get on with the things I do best. I can't stand reading these legislations to see what the next thing is that government is going to use to fuck over IT professionals and the amount of time I spend writing letters to politicians, when they propose these bills, has become really intense over the last 18 months. Excluding the TPP, which is double the size I estimated (6000 pages), this is the 5th Act passed that affects Information Technology.

    This has nothing to do with left or right politics. It has everything to do with a functioning democracy. It is naive to think that raw talent and intelligence is enough to succeed in this industry anymore, the game is much bigger. If you don't like the idea of an I.T union then start picking up legislation and using your big brain to analyze the effect it is going to have on you and your peers and start writing letters to politicians because the bottom line here is no one has got our back and these laws will continue to be framed to control what you think you can do by criminalizing your behavior when appropriate.

    It's not a slippery slope any more, it's a full on uncontrolled slide.

  • This fits right in the the previous 'political corruption' story. Oh well, I guess everything is going to be locked down soon.

  • If Microsoft had expended more effort in writing a secure Operating System instead of hiring on lawyers, then the entire commercial sector wouldn't be in the current mess where anyone and his dog can walk off with your 'trade secrets'.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is surely a joke:

    ‘[Behind] Cortana sits a vast amount of technology developed or enhanced in-house by Microsoft – voice recognition; language translation; reactive and predictive algorithms that can synthesize context, location and data, and interface with the vast resources of the Bing search engine index; and a complex array of cloud servers to crunch and serve data in real time. This technology represents tens of thousands of hours of research, trial and error, and continued improvement

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling