The American technological giant Microsoft opened its first “Transparency centre” outside the US on Wednesday. It is located in Brussels. This centre gives authorities access to Microsoft product source codes, as well as information on cybersecurity, Microsoft said in a press release on Wednesday. The Digital agenda Minister, Alexander De Croo, was present at the opening. The only other transparency centre opened in Redmond in the US in January 2014. It was part of Microsoft’s “Government security program”. This program lets government institutions access information on Microsoft product security. 42 institutions from 23 governments are currently members, including Belgian federal, regional and local governments.
The Transparency centre will give authorities access to the source codes for frequently used software. They will also get an overview of their infrastructure’s vulnerabilities, and how to fix them. Microsoft’s aim is to gain the trust of the authorities.
Brussels was chosen as “it’s a good place for contact”, and due to “the presence of several government organisations”, explains Bruno Schroder, technological director for Microsoft Belux. “Digital security is one of the pillars of the modern digital world”, says Alexander De Croo in a press release. “The efforts made to protect our freedom and assets require joint actions by public collectives and companies that develop technology, and then make it available”.
Security is the priority at the centre. Agents that consult the source codes will not be able to use their own computer or mobile phone in the rooms, for example.
European authorities, as well as authorities from the Middle East and Africa, will have access to the Brussels centre. In total, Microsoft employs around 400 people in Belgium.