Microsoft Demands Privacy Protection To Safeguard Rights

Microsoft has again raised the issue of privacy protection, after President Brad Smith stricter controls are needed to safeguard people’s rights.

Smith, a long time champion of privacy issues, made the comments whilst speaking at the Web Summit, in Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Smith has previously gone on record earlier this year about how Microsoft had rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras due to human rights concerns.

Better protections

Then in June Microsoft deleted a large facial recognition (FR) database over privacy and bias concerns.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that Smith said on Wednesday that a “new wave” of data privacy protection and other security measures was needed to safeguard people’s rights at a time when “everything has gone digital”.

Smith was quoted by Reuters as saying that it was important to protect privacy, something he sees as a “fundamental human right” and one of the next decade’s most critical issues.

“It’s why I believe we will not only need a new wave of technology but a new wave of privacy protection as well, a new wave of security protection, a new wave of measures to protect the ethics and human rights associated with artificial intelligence (AI),” he reportedly said.

However, he gave no details of any concrete measures he was proposing.

Online privacy

In August this year Redmond updated its privacy policy to admit that Microsoft contractors sometimes listen to translated Skype calls.

It came after it was reported that Microsoft workers occasionally listened to real Skype conversations that had been processed by its translation software. The idea is that some of these conversations are ‘reviewed’ to check the quality of translations.

The development came amid a broader privacy row surrounding a number of tech giants including Amazon, Google, and Apple using their digital personal assistants to sometimes listen and record user interactions.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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