Microsoft Creates New Privacy Lawyer Role

Microsoft announced on Friday that it has created a new role in its legal department for Julie Brill, a former Federal Trade Commissioner, who will oversee privacy and regulatory affairs.

Brill joins the company from Hogan Lovells, and will not begin her new role as a vice president and deputy general counsel until sometime this summer, according to a press release. She was not available for comment.

Based in the company’s headquarters just outside Seattle, Brill will report to Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, who has made cyber security one of his signature issues in speeches and talks around the world.

Here’s the description of Brill’s new role, from the press release:

Julie and her team will work closely with external stakeholders — including policy makers, regulators, customers, and civil society — to ensure Microsoft is playing its part in addressing privacy and data protection issues. She and her team will also work closely with Microsoft’s engineering groups to build strong privacy protection into our products and services to enable Microsoft’s enterprise customers to meet the new privacy standards established by the landmark European Union General Data Protection Regulation.

Julie’s new role will extend beyond privacy to include areas such as telecommunications regulation, corporate standards, internet governance, as well as legal and regulatory issues around accessibility of Microsoft products.  She’ll also be responsible for important aspects of the company’s online safety work.

2016-05-04 HL firm photo Brill_Julie_H23765

Brill. (Courtesy)

Brill served on the five-member FTC for nearly six years, from 2010 to 2016, and was known as an advocate for consumer rights, calling for greater scrutiny of data brokers who sell consumer information generated by web browsers or from credit card use. She was also an advocate of the Privacy Shield, the framework designed to allow companies to transfer data between the U.S. and E.U and still comply with the different data laws in each jurisdiction.

In an interview with Big Law Business in the Spring of 2016, Brill acknowledged that data laws were still evolving and weren’t perfect.

“We could use data breach notification at the federal level as long as it’s robust,” she said. “There’s lots of reforms that would be helpful,” also citing the need “baseline privacy rules” and more laws governing data brokers.

Smith said in the press release that Brill will help the company’s assure its customers that they can use the Microsoft Cloud “knowing that we will help meet their global technology regulatory needs.”

As a company, the problem that perhaps concerns us the most in the cyber security space is the growing rise of nation state attacks,” he said at a forum in Brussels earlier this year, calling for governments to work together to create a “Digital Geneva Convention.”

In the speech, which has been given numerous times throughout the world,  Smith pointed to the 2014 attack on Sony Entertainment before it released The Interview, a film mocking North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un as a signal event: Rather than stealing information, the attack was aimed at disrupting the company’s business.

“Cyberspace has become the new battlefield,” he said, adding, “As a result of all of this, we have discovered that we in the tech sector are on the frontlines.”

Watch Smith talk about the looming cyber threat in the video below.  

UPDATED: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Brill is a former International Trade Commissioner. She is a former Federal Trade Commissioner. blb newsletter tag

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