Can’t afford to say we’ll see what breaks, then fix it: Nadella on tech privacy

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Technology giant Microsoft’s chief executive officer (CEO) Satya Nadella on Tuesday said the technology industry has to make privacy and security an integral part of their product design.

“We can’t afford to say we’ll see what breaks and then we’ll fix it,” said Nadella during a fireside chat with KT Rama Rao, industries and IT minister of Telangana, at the Bio Asia event today.

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Nadella said regulations are coming already, and the example set by Europe with its General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are spreading worldwide. However, companies can’t wait for regulations and rules to be enforced. He said privacy and security need to be an integral part of how companies design products. “As technology becomes so pervasive in our lives, society and economy, speaking even for a company like ours, we need to take responsibility to ensure that we build for privacy by design,” he said.

Further, Nadella noted that privacy isn’t the only aspect that companies need to consider. He said companies also need to build with artificial intelligence (AI) ethics, internet safety and security in mind. He said privacy as a human right will be recognized over time and regulations will come, around how data is used and who it benefits.

“Ultimately if patient data is being used, it has to benefit the patient,” Nadella added, speaking about data regulations for healthcare or otherwise. “I think that the value exchange around data, its privacy or if it’s being used then who is benefitting from it, are all things where there are going to be rules that are going to be legislated… same thing with facial recognition and AI ethics,” he said.

Lastly, Nadella said he looks forward to a world where laws around privacy, security etc. exist, just like there are laws for food and drug safety. “Hopefully there will be a global norm around. That’s one thing I would hope for. That we don’t fragment, that we are able to bring together a set of global rules that will allow all of us to both comply and make sure that what we build is safe to use,” he said.

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