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The employees sent a letter to Microsoft executives requesting the company cancel contracts with law enforcement, support defunding the Seattle Police Department and support Black Lives Matter Seattle. (OneZero)

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Talking point: Tech employees are growing increasingly vocal in criticizing their employers. Earlier this week, a group of Facebook content moderators accused their employer of being manipulated by U.S. President Donald Trump. Microsoft said last week it would donate US$1.5 million to racial justice and police reform groups and examine its internal workings. This letter calls for a larger number of additional reforms including permitting a four-day work week and having executives call for the resignation of Seattle’s mayor.

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Along with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a U.S.-based think tank, they will run “activities on election interference and building international capacity.” The first such event is an online workshop with the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats on “multi-stakeholder information exchange and cooperation” later this week,” Corinne Havard, spokesperson for Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc, told The Logic. The co-leads are still “in the process of finalizing our workplan for 2020-2021.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: The Paris Call, launched in November 2018, includes a series of high-level principles, including protecting internet infrastructure, intellectual property, democracy and setting international norms of responsible online behaviour. Ottawa’s leadership of the election section will include backing “the creation and the improvement of standards, norms and policies,” although Havard did not provide a specific deadline for those activities. The federal government has committed to a range of other high-level ideals in the digital realm, including tackling violent and extremist content online, as laid out in the Christchurch Call to Action in May 2019 and in its own domestically focused 10-point digital charter, launched the same month.

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An investigation by the U.S. Defense Department’s watchdog found the procurement process that led to Microsoft winning the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, worth up to US$10 billion, was consistent with federal laws and processes. (Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: The investigation followed complaints from unsuccessful bidders, including Oracle and Amazon. The latter filed a formal motion in January to halt the contract, after claiming “unmistakable bias” against it in the procurement process; in February, a federal judge ordered Microsoft to pause its work on JEDI. While the Pentagon and Microsoft said the new report validates the JEDI decision, the contract is still on hold pending a ruling by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on the Amazon allegations. Meanwhile, U.S. federal departments may avoid similar procurement disputes in the future by opening up contracts to multiple providers, like the CIA plans to do with its own cloud computing deals.

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The tech giant is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the video-game push, and is working on a cloud gaming platform codenamed Project Tempo. It’s also releasing its first original big-budget game, called Crucible, in May. (The New York Times)

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Talking point: Project Tempo would compete directly with Microsoft’s Project xCloud and Google’s Stadia, and a cloud gaming platform that Nvidia announced in February. Amazon is hoping to leverage the success of its subsidiary Twitch, which lets users broadcast their gaming to other users, and is working on games that people can play together on the platform in real time. The company is hoping to get a slice of the US$160 billion-plus in revenue that gaming is expected to generate this year. There’s been an increase in interest in gaming since COVID-19 has prompted many to stay home. In March, The Logic reported that Toronto-based Enthusiast Gaming had seen a 40 per cent traffic surge in the wake of the pandemic.

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The move comes after reports that the Israeli facial recognition startup was using its “advanced tactical surveillance” software, known as “Better Tomorrow,” to secretly conduct biometric surveillance on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The company further said it would no longer make minority investments in firms that sell facial recognition technology. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Along with the likes of LightSpeed Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures, Microsoft’s M12 venture capital arm was part of a group that invested US$74 million in AnyVision’s Series A. For this relatively small investment, the Redmond, Wash.-based behemoth bought a PR disaster spurred by human rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. Such investments “do not generally allow for the level of oversight or control that Microsoft exercises over the use of its own technology,” the company wrote in a joint statement with AnyVision.

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Amazon argued the review of the contract prevented it from adjusting pricing in response to government requests while giving Microsoft a “do-over,” according to court documents unsealed Tuesday. (CNBC)

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Talking point: Amazon is fighting a two-front war: one against Microsoft and the other against U.S. President Donald Trump. The Microsoft fight is about cloud-services market share. Amazon was the favourite for the Pentagon contract, but Microsoft won it in October 2019, after which Amazon filed a lawsuit challenging the decision. As part of it, Amazon is seeking to depose Trump and former U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis, who alleged in his memoir that Trump told him to “screw Amazon” out of the contract.

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The three firms, which are at the start of a three-month bidding process, embedded at Deutsche Bank’s office in Frankfurt last week, according to multiple sources. (Reuters)

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Talking point: The bids are part of a $19-billion technology investment the bank is making as part of a restructuring after a steady stream of losses. Last year, the bank announced it was laying off around 20 per cent of staff, or about 18,000 people. The tech firms are being tasked with improving internal efficiency processes. Another idea under consideration is a corporate credit marketplace. Deutsche is leaning on tech giants as a growing number of fintechs are looking to take away its traditional business. Also today, U.S. fintech Varo Money said it had cleared a key regulatory hurdle as part of its application to become a full bank.

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The companies are working on software for upcoming wireless networks. U.S. telecom and tech firms are also negotiating shared engineering standards to allow such programs to run on hardware from different providers. (The Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: This move targets Huawei, which leads the world in 5G tech. Different departments within the Trump administration have tried to create a national champion to take on the Chinese firm, which has grown its market share by selling equipment for cheaper than competitors. The White House wants “all of the U.S. 5G architecture and infrastructure done by American firms,” economic adviser Larry Kudlow said of the new plan. Neither Microsoft nor Dell has a long track record in networking technology, but Kudlow said both are working on software and cloud products that could substitute for hardware. Widespread use of the technology now under development could assuage U.S. security concerns as other governments ignore its threats and allow Huawei equipment into parts of their own 5G networks. The U.K.’s decision last week “provides Canada with cover” to similarly skip an outright ban, Scotiabank telecom analyst Jeff Fan wrote in a recent report.

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The company is pledging to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits by the next decade, and to remove all carbon it has emitted since its founding in 1975, across its operations and supply chain, in 30 years. It will invest US$1 billion to develop carbon-removal technology and release a “sustainability calculator” for its cloud customers. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This takes Microsoft a step beyond its major competitors. Amazon pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040; Apple uses 100 per cent renewable energy for all its stores, offices and data centres, while Google bought enough clean energy to offset its annual usage. Facebook said it would achieve that marker this year and reduce its carbon footprint by 75 per cent from 2017 levels next year. Microsoft said it’s been carbon neutral since 2012, mainly by purchasing offsets, but now plans to have its facilities running on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025 and to completely electrify its campus vehicle fleet by 2030 to reduce the 16 million metric tons of emissions it will produce in 2020. The company has faced criticism from its employees over its links to the oil and gas industry after it struck deals with Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Schlumberger to move their data into the cloud.

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted 333,530 patents in 2019, according to IFI Claims, a global patent data firm. The record is an increase of 15 per cent from 2018. (TechCrunch)

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Talking point: IBM topped the list of patents received for the 27th consecutive year, with 9,262 in 2019 (up from 9,100 in 2018); nearly half its patents related to artificial intelligence and cloud technology. Samsung came second, with 6,469 patents. U.S. patents to Canadian companies increased by over 17 per cent—the second-highest jump after those granted to China, which increased by about 34 per cent. IFI also found the top 10 fastest-growing technologies of the past year by patent growth included CRISPR, hybrid plants, 3D printing and medicinal research like cancer therapies.