Microsoft’s president calls for greater security and privacy in the digital world

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 30 March 2017
Microsoft’s president calls for greater security and privacy in the digital world

Microsoft president Brad Smith has concluded his time in Europe in Brussels, after visiting Germany, Denmark, Poland and the UK.

Throughout the week, Brad reinforced Microsoft’s position on trust and security, following his previous call for a Digital Geneva Convention, with the aim of governing states’ behaviour in the digital age and protecting civilians from nation state cyberattacks.

Engaging with businesses, academia, governments and media in each country, Brad highlighted the positive business and societal impact of the current wave of technological innovation, while acknowledging the need for collaboration to make sure the benefits are broadly shared – with Microsoft’s commitment to privacy, security and building trust in technology, taking centre stage.

Brad’s engagement on Saturday was to give a live-streamed keynote address at The German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum.

On the day the European Union celebrated its 60th anniversary, Brad spoke of the need for a Digital Geneva Convention, outlining the dangers associated with the ‘cyberspace battlefield’, and how technology companies like Microsoft are on the front lines to help fight against nation state attacks.

He went on to reiterate how Microsoft has made it clear that it will not aid any government or organisation in attacking any customers in any country, and that the company will aid and protect customers regardless of their nationality:

“Only if we can bring governments together to put in cyberspace the kinds of rules that have existed for every other form of warfare, will we do what it takes. We won’t create a perfect world – there is no such thing on this planet – but that is the only way that we will fundamentally make the progress we need to make to ensure that security, privacy and safety truly flourish in this new digital world.”

Earlier in the week, Brad delivered a keynote address at Princeton University’s prestigious Fung Forum in Berlin.

Addressing the conference theme of, “Can Liberty Survive the Digital Age”, Brad highlighted the fact that liberty depends on privacy, making the case that privacy depends both on transparency of government access to private information, and on the ability to keep private information secure.

Brad argued that without transparency and security there can be no privacy, and without privacy there can be no liberty. He also talked about the steps Microsoft was talking in each of these areas including the opening of new Microsoft datacentres in the UK and Germany – the latter of which has spearheaded data privacy development with a first-of-a-kind model which ensures that data never leaves the control of a Germany-based data trustee.

He also highlighted the company’s privacy principles, which are grounded in the understanding that data Microsoft manages on behalf of customers remains their data, just as the money they deposit in a bank remains theirs.

Microsoft’s significant investment in advanced security technologies was also highlighted, as were additional details on his earlier call for a Digital Geneva Convention.

Read more about Brad Smith’s visit to Europe here

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