Microsoft Joins the FCC to Discuss Location-based Services and Privacy

Today, I am representing Microsoft in a Location Based Services Forum hosted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss how consumers can harness the potential of location-based services while still protecting their privacy. Location-based services have become indispensable for many consumers as they unlock rich, rewarding and personalized online experiences – particularly on mobile phones. We commend the FCC for convening stakeholders in a forum that explores the benefits individuals can reap from new services while actively engaging to protect their personal information. The Forum will include discussions on Privacy by Design and consumer education.

Privacy by Design has become a popular term in the privacy community. For us, privacy by design represents more than a decade of investment in a comprehensive privacy program that includes people, processes and technologies that help us anticipate and address privacy sensitivities in our products while continuing to deliver innovation to our customers. Recent examples include location-sharing limits and controls in Windows Phone 7, local storage and prompt deletion of biometric data that helps control the Kinect for Xbox 360 gaming system, and Tracking Protection Lists for the Internet Explorer 9 Web browser, which provide groundbreaking capabilities to limit online tracking.

Our privacy program is in place because we know that we must earn the trust of our customers and partners every day by being as transparent as possible about our data protection policies and processes. Andy Lees, President of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, recently blogged about the principles Microsoft had in mind as it designed the location-based services of the Windows Phone 7 operating system. His blog provides a good example of the kind of privacy thinking that can go into building a particular product.

An important aspect of protecting privacy is providing people with information that enables them to understand and manage the collection and use of their personal information. Microsoft provides many free educational resources and partners with a number of groups to make them broadly available. Early this year, we took advantage of Data Privacy Day to create awareness and provide guidance relating to the use of location-based services.

No single company or industry can completely safeguard privacy in our globally connected world. However, by working with customers, industry leaders, civil society and governments we can create standards, policies and guidance to help people and organizations better manage and protect their sensitive information. Multi-stakeholder discussions like today’s FCC forum are important to help ensure innovation proceeds in a privacy-friendly way.

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