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Microsoft Favors Privacy Legislation

20 Aug, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

REDMOND, Wash. – Microsoft is breaking with its fellow tech giants to support comprehensive federal privacy legislation. Amazon, Google and Twitter all oppose new laws.

The news comes amid the Obama administration’s request for comment on its big data report. Microsoft has criticized the government’s surveillance practices but welcomes privacy legislation.

David Heiner, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, says that without legislation, consumer trust in U.S. companies could erode. “Already, some customers for cloud services in foreign markets are turning towards local solutions instead of U.S. providers, precisely because they (and their regulators) do not trust to the sufficiency of U.S. privacy laws,” he adds.

Last summer the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation predicted that up to $35 billion could be siphoned from the U.S. cloud computing market by 2016 if foreign clients pull business from U.S.-based cloud services. Cloud technology is the backbone of countless technology vendors in the data and advertising industry.

Microsoft suggests that “to fully address the protection of consumer privacy in the era of big data, legislative reform must also address how law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and other government agencies access and handle personal information. This is perhaps the biggest challenge to building public confidence in the cloud and other emerging technologies that rely on big data.”

In April, Microsoft publicized that the European Union’s data privacy authorities approved its cloud-storage technology. Microsoft competes with Google and Amazon for clients in the cloud storage space.

The Internet Association, a group of digital companies including Amazon, Google, Ebay, Facebook and Yahoo, writes: “Any legislative proposal to address big data may result in a precautionary principle problem that hinders the advancement of technologies and innovative services before they even develop.”

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Direct Marketing Association also oppose privacy legislation. The IAB writes: “It has not been demonstrated that big data presents new concerns that cannot be addressed through the existing framework and regulatory approach.”

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