Microsoft urges government to step up privacy laws for the cloud

Microsoft is concerned that the future of cloud computing may wind up ending in a downpour unless the government makes some serious improvements to privacy laws to boost consumers level of trust in web-based storage and computing services, CNET reports.

In a keynote speech to the Brookings Institution’s “Cloud Computing for Business and Society”, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and senior vice president, appealed to Washington to pass new laws and update existing ones to address top issues voiced by computer users who are reluctant to move to Internet-based storage and services, such as fraud and cyber attacks.

"We also need government to modernize the laws, adapt them to the cloud, and adopt new measures to protect privacy and promote security," Smith said. "There is no doubt that the future holds even more opportunities than the present, but it also contains critical challenges that we must address now if we want to take full advantage of the potential of cloud computing."

In his presentation, Smith cited the results of a recent survey that Microsoft conducted in December, which gave the company a look at how business executives and the general public felt about cloud computing. The survey questioned 700 members of the public, 200 IT executives, and 200 senior business leaders.

The survey found that 58 percent of the pubic and 86 percent of business leaders are excited about the possibilities of cloud computing, however more than 90 percent of them are worried about data security and privacy, as well as availability of their data as it floats in the cloud.

During his speech, Smith proposed that Washington create a "Cloud Computing Advancement Act", which would protect consumers and give the government the tools it needs to handle data privacy and security issues. He also said that an international panel is crucial in addressing data security so that information published on the Internet is safe, regardless of where it resides.

"The PC revolution empowered individuals and democratized technology in new and profoundly important ways," Smith said. "As we move to embrace the cloud, we should build on that success and preserve the personalization of technology by making sure privacy rights are preserved, data security is strengthened, and an international understanding is developed about the governance of data when it crosses national borders."

In a day and age where social networking, electronic communication, and online collaboration is becoming more commonplace it is crucial that data security and privacy fall under the microscope to ensure that important, and often personal or confidential information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Thanks to Neowin member Sudo for the news tip!
Image Credit: NY Times

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12 Comments

Completely agree. I'm liking Microsoft's direction. Really putting privacy to the forefront were it should be.

WooHoo!!! said,
Completely agree. I'm liking Microsoft's direction. Really putting privacy to the forefront were it should be.

Bing is an example of that, too :-)

WooHoo!!! said,
Completely agree. I'm liking Microsoft's direction. Really putting privacy to the forefront were it should be.

At the expense of Google obviously. But I'm not going to complain about the motivation as long as the result is going to be something good.

It is both refreshing and encouraging to see Microsoft step up the fight for better privacy controls, especially in an era where Facbook tells its millions of users that privacy is a thing of the past.

C_Guy said,
It is both refreshing and encouraging to see Microsoft step up the fight for better privacy controls, especially in an era where Facbook tells its millions of users that privacy is a thing of the past.

You beat me to the punch on facebook... but despite what MS says for it's PR, the fact is they are still the one's driving the changing of these laws and regulations, which means they will insert lots of little loop holes and "special circumstances" to benefit themselves. Look at the WGA fiasco, that's a perfect example of MS violating it's paying customers privacy and should have been outlawed years ago.

Matchmuchach said,
I like it that Microsoft is really pushing privacy these days! More companys should do that (Google)!

Is this only because of Bing's shortened data retention time in the last news article, or am I missing something? AFAIK, Google also has some pretty reasonable terms? You don't exactly hear of privacy breaches or user data abuse there? Google is even thinking of moving out of China, because privacy can't be guaranteed with gov't sponsored attacks, unlike Microsoft.

Edited by Northgrove, Jan 22 2010, 7:45pm :

As much as I agree with MS here,
my computer, my OS, my apps, my games, my files remain HERE WITH ME.
cloud = no, thanks. I'll pass this trend.

guess I'm getting old. haha

Glassed Silver:win

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