Data privacy must be seen as 'human right' says Microsoft's Satya Nadella

Hasan Chowdhury
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Microsoft chief executive made the case for transparent data privacy laws which put internet users first.  - REUTERS

Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has claimed that data privacy “must be seen as a human right” if internet users are to feel safe online, pointing to Europe’s GDPR as the benchmark for global regulation. 

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Microsoft chief executive made the case for transparent data privacy laws which put internet users first. 

Mr Nadella called for “data dignity”, which he said “goes further than privacy”, amid growing concerns among regulators that technology firms have excessive control over data that they collect from users on their services. 

Along with Microsoft, tech firms such as Apple and IBM have called on the US to adopt standards set out in the European Union, which put more power in the hands of citizens hoping to control the use of their data by third parties and tackle privacy concerns by threatening companies with severe fines. 

“We need global norms to ensure trust in technology,” Nadella said. 

“In some senses, Europe has taken the lead with GDPR and has even effectively regulated that. In our case, we took that regulation and we are in fact hoping to see more of a federal standard in the United States and in the world over.” 

The comments from the Microsoft chief executive come just one day after Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google and its parent company Alphabet, called for greater regulation of technology that threatens to intrude on the privacy of its users. 

The Google boss told an audience at Davos that “privacy cannot be a luxury good” and that tech companies must work to earn the trust of people using their services. 

“For us privacy is at the heart of what we do. Users come to Google at very important moments, ask us questions. We deal with people’s sensitive information in Gmail, Google Photos and so on,” he said. 

Google has previously been put in the firing line over its use of people's data, after the Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's data watchdog, launched an investigation last year into complaints that the search giant was breaking privacy laws.