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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