I spent last week in Brussels with privacy regulators and practitioners from around the world, many of whom were there for the IAPP European Data Protection Congress. It’s an important time for privacy globally, and I want to share a few of my insights from the week (including my keynote address to the conference and a separate event we hosted on transatlantic privacy) and how they apply to what we’re doing to advance privacy at Microsoft.
With new European privacy regulation that would apply directly across all 27 EU member states under consideration, the panel had lots to discuss. One area of strong consensus was the tremendous potential the digital economy holds for companies on both sides of the pond. Accordingly, it’s important to strike the right balance between data protection with business growth through interoperability between privacy regulation in the EU, U.S. and elsewhere. The panelists also agreed that consumers should be empowered to make better privacy choices and control their own data. Do Not Track was cited as an example of how to achieve this empowerment, and our approach to DNT in Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 shows that we agree.
As the panel concluded, we announced the culmination of a series of discussions that we convened to advance a global conversation aimed at generating shared ideas and new thinking in support of alternative approaches to privacy protection. As people here in Brussels read the summary report, we heard a lot of agreement that more focus on data use, coupled with strong organizational responsibility, represents a promising path toward realizing the potential of big data while sustaining privacy. There’s much more work to do here, and we look forward to helping advance these important discussions.
On Thursday morning, I delivered an IAPP keynote address detailing how we’re moving from an era of personal computers to an era of personal computing, with significant implications for privacy and data protection. I underscored how we increasingly rely on powerful devices that connect to the cloud; more natural ways to interact with technology; and the ability to glean insights from big data. And, I explained how we’ll need to address privacy in this this exciting era of personal computing through a combination of effective self-regulation, consistent government legislation and market innovation. Take a look at our Microsoft Privacy Twitter feed for some reactions to my remarks; feel free to share your perspectives there, too.
Our customers want and expect strong privacy protection to be built into Microsoft products and services. This past week’s activities are great examples of how we engage with a broad range of privacy stakeholders around the world to help put people first.