Microsoft has announced a new Transparency Center in Beijing, which will open this fall. Two Transparency Centers already are in operation – one in the U.S. and the second in Belgium.
Microsoft has been trying to gain the trust of governments all around the world since 2002 – when Bill Gates began the Government Security Program (GSP). The Transparency Centers though are a relatively new idea – the first one was announced for the U.S. in 2013, and started operation in 2014; the Belgian Transparency Center began operation in 2015.
For 2016, Microsoft has decided to open a third Transparency Center – in Beijing.
What is the Transparency Center?
The Transparency Center is an initiative that comes under the Government Security Program; its objective is to allow “government IT experts to test and analyze [Microsoft] products closely and gain confidence that [the] software will stand up to their security needs when deployed broadly.”
In simple terms, governments can have full access to Microsoft’s source code. This lets them analyze and verify it, to make sure it fits their security needs. The fact that Microsoft does not share source code has been used by the open-source Linux community as a point against Microsoft since more than a decade – so this changes a lot of things, depending on how much Microsoft is willing to share with the governments.
This is Microsoft’s first Asian Transparency Center, but hopefully, it is only a beginning for what is to come within the Asian markets. The Asian governments have been trying to introduce technology to improve the life of billions they are responsible for – IT security for these billions is an important part of this. Microsoft’s attempt to open itself to scrutiny is commendable, albeit necessary.
Microsoft is planning an event for the opening of the new Transparency Center this fall.