Microsoft president: Data privacy is one of the 'fundamental freedoms of our time'

Data privacy is one of the “fundamental freedoms of our time,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith on Friday while discussing concerns related to cloud computing and other technological advances affecting society.

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“I think it starts with just helping us all understand how the cloud works. It sounds fuzzy, warm, but it’s in fact data in massive data centers,” he told Maria Bartiromo. “That's why we start the book by taking people on a tour of a data center, in effect. It does mean that the location of data, the building of data centers, it actually is one of the central human rights issues of our time. Tech companies need to think more about it, as a society, across this country, we need to think more about it.”

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Smith’s comments come as the Federal Trade Commission ramps up investigations into big tech firms, relating to antitrust allegations. Just this week, Google was subpoenaed for details on its ad business.

Smith believes these issues “reflect the state of technology in our time.”

“It's a tool and a weapon. It's something that affects all of us. I think it's natural that governments here and around the world are taking a closer look at the tech sector. I think the real question is: what are the problems that people want to solve? Is it privacy, is it security? Is it about economic power? Is it about access to technology? I think over the next several years we'll be affected by all these things.”