Microsoft joins calls for laws to protect privacy
Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella joined a swelling chorus calling for national privacy legislation, days after Google became the latest tech giant to reveal a personal data breach.
“We hope that there’s more of a national privacy law,” Nadella said in an interview on Wednesday at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he discussed leadership.
Nadella characterised privacy as “a human right”.
Tech companies are already facing tough new European privacy rules that went into effect in May, while California passed a strict data privacy law in June. A national law is preferable to legislation forged by individual states and would reduce “transactional costs” to the benefit of companies large and small, Nadella said.
His comments reflect growing ferment around privacy following failures by tech companies. Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican and the chairman of the US Senate commerce committee, said at a hearing earlier on Wednesday Congress is contemplating privacy legislation.
“It is increasingly clear that industry self-regulation in this area is not sufficient,” Thune said in prepared remarks.
Alphabet’s Google became the latest example of flawed privacy protection earlier this week. The company said it found a “software glitch” in its Google+ social network in March that could have exposed the personal data of half-amillion users, but decided not to tell the public until Monday.
At a September Senate hearing, executives of big tech companies told Congress they favour new federal consumer safeguards. Apple suggested its own privacy concepts be incorporated into legislation.
Nadella also dealt with cybersecurity issues in the interview, and said Microsoft was not affected by a hack in China that involved tampering with critical technology components bound for the US. “We’re very confident that we have no exposure,” he said.
Under Nadella, Microsoft is confronting issues such as whether restraints are needed on emerging artificial intelligence products, and how to stop computer-enabled election interference. At the same time, the Redmond, Washingtonbased software giant is trying to land a major defence contract.
Microsoft said on Tuesday it is on track to catch up with Amazon by obtaining top federal security authorisation early next year. That could bolster its position in a winner-take-all competition for a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract from the Pentagon. Amazon Web Services already holds the required security certification.
Tech companies are preparing to submit bids for the contract that could last as long as 10 years and be valued at as much as $10bn.