Data Privacy Day 2015 – Putting people in control

When European countries first began marking Data Privacy Day back in 2006, (or Data Protection Day as it’s known there), we needed to jumpstart a global conversation about personal data privacy. Today that conversation has taken on a life of its own. Data Privacy Day is no longer simply about raising awareness. This day has become a much needed platform for organizing a conversation about solutions.

New technologies spark new questions, new concerns and new cultural shifts. All of these changes can make people feel like they no longer control their own information.

Microsoft’s latest research confirms this sentiment. “Views from around the globe: 2nd Annual Report on How Personal Technology is Changing our Lives” shows that in 11 of the 12 countries surveyed respondents say that technology’s effect on privacy was mostly negative.

privacy, Data Privacy Day 2015

One of the points the report makes is that people are not just concerned about protecting their personal data from criminals. People worry that they cannot control the use of their personal data by companies and by governments as well.

According to the poll, majorities of respondents in every country but India and Indonesia say current legal protections for users of personal technology are insufficient. And only in those two countries do most respondents feel fully aware of the types of personal information collected about them.

As we advance technology to help people and organizations do great things, we want to ensure fundamental values such as privacy endure. Privacy isn’t just a nice-to-have – we believe it is a basic human right. Our CEO, Satya Nadella, summarized our approach last July, writing that “Microsoft experiences will be unique as they will reason over information from work and life and keep a user in control of their privacy.”

At Microsoft, we are helping put you in control in three ways:

  • Building privacy into policies and practices. Putting you in control means offering transparency, starting with company policies that provide simple and easy to understand explanations of how we use your personal information.
  • Building privacy into products. We design and build products with security and privacy in mind, from our software development processes to using best-in-class encryption to protect your data. These steps are critical to keeping your information safe.
  • Advocating laws and legal processes that keep people in control. We require governments around the world use legal process to request customer data. We have challenged laws to make privacy protections stronger. And we advocate for better public policy to balance privacy and public safety.

As we move into an era of more personal computing, technology will be an even more powerful tool for people. The need for solutions that balance the value of data to make our lives better with the need to control that data will grow. The steps we’ve taken help build a solid foundation for ensuring that privacy endures as technology evolves.