Monday, November 12, 2007

Microsoft annual meeting

Microsoft is holding its annual shareholders meeting in downtown Seattle, Washington, tomorrow.

There are two contested shareholder resolutions on the agenda. One proposal, from the New York City Pension Fund, requests that "management institute policies to help protect freedom of access to the Internet" including certain minimum standards. The NYC pension fund is managed by the office of the comptroller there, William C. Thompson.

Mr. Thompson notes, on behalf of his proposal: "that some authoritarian foreign governments such as the Governments of Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam block, restrict, and monitor the information their citizens attempt to obtain."

The company recommends through its proxy statement that shareholders vote "no" on this: "In our view the most effective approach toward this subject requires more flexibility than the proposed standards would allow. We believe that availability of our products and services has increased the ability of people worldwide to engage in free expression and has helped transform the economic, cultural, and political landscape of nations throughout the world."

The second proposal would establish a board committee on human rights. The company likewise recommends a No vote on this one.

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