Feeds

Microsoft boffins: Now even LAWYERS can grok Bing code's privacy compliance

Non-techies can get code fixed for privacy laws in real time. So sez Redmond

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Boffins at Microsoft Research have devised a way to automatically check code for compliance with privacy laws – and, according to Redmond, it's so simple that even non-techies can use it successfully.

Microsoft Research (MSR) has developed a programming language called Legalease, to be used together with its data inventory engine, Grok, which it claims can comb millions of lines of constantly changing code and check that it complies with rules on privacy.

Legalease is intended for use by non-programming types to specify restrictions on how data is handled. One of the main drivers behind Legalease's development was that software developers and those setting companies’ privacy policies don’t share a common language.

MSR says that more than 20 per cent of the code in Bing changes on a daily basis, with changes made by thousands of programmers. Changes in code might affect how data is used or who views it, potentially violating company, government or regulatory privacy policies.

Keeping tabs on changes in very large systems, like the Bing search engine, using manual audits is difficult. According to MSR automated testing is the best way to verify compliance with privacy rules and laws on the massive scale demanded in environments like Bing.

Legalease uses allow/deny rules, with exceptions. This reflects privacy policy frameworks like the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

Grok

Grok, meanwhile, annotates existing code using a system that cross-references information from different sources, based on varying levels of confidence.

According to Microsoft, pattern-matching to column names across a database results in a low-confidence score, while annotations made manually by developers are deemed to be more trustworthy and thus get a high-confidence score.

MSR says it developed Grok for use on Bing but found writing suitable polices hard – and this was what led to Legalese. Both were tested on Bing and are now running on the data analytics pipeline of Microsoft's search engine.

MSR presented Legalese and Grok at the 35th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Jose, California, this week. Redmond claims a group of non-coders took less than five minutes to learn how to use Legalease and just 15 minutes to code nine Bing policy clauses on the use of user information.

Saikat Guha, a researcher at Microsoft, in a statement called Legalease “the final piece of the automated privacy compliance jigsaw puzzle."

You can read more on the Microsoft Research site here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.