Datacracy: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls for a common set of global rules governing data— not fragmented local ones

Datacracy: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls for a common set of global rules governing data— not fragmented local ones
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp.
  • "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.
  • The comments coming from one of the world's tech titans is significant for its timing.
  • The Indian government is about to debate a new bill aimed at data protection.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday said he hopes for global rules on the safety and privacy of data that would make sure that tech products and services are safe to use.

He said he was looking forward to a world where there will be rules and regulations for privacy and data safety like food safety laws and drug safety laws.

"One thing I hope for is that we don't fragment, that we are able to, whether it's on privacy or data safety, 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 in a virtual interactive session with Telangana's Information Technology and Industry Minister K. T. Rama Rao during Bio Asia 2021.

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Pointing out that there are regulations all over the world for privacy, he said Europe was first to come out with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

"It's spreading everywhere. Privacy is a human right. I think it is going to be recognised and there will be other regulations which are going to say that when you use, in healthcare for example, data, who is benefitting. Ultimately if some patient data is being used, it has to benefit the patient. I think that the value exchange around data, its privacy or if it is used who is benefiting are all things where there are going to be rules that are going to be legislated. Same thing with facial recognition and same with AI ethics."


Stating that technology is becoming pervasive in people's lives, society and economy, he underlined the need for companies building tech platforms and tools to ensure privacy of the user.

"We need to take responsibility to ensure we build for privacy, we build for security, we build for AI ethics and we build even for Internet safety because these four things are not things we can wait even for regulation. We have to, even from an engineering and design ethos perspective, build it into our core. We can't afford to say we will build it and we will see what breaks and then fix it, because that attitude is not tolerated in any other industry and it should not be even in the tech industry."

"One of the things we are trying to ensure is how do we have that design principles and engineering processes to ensure that the products and the services are respecting privacy, security, AI ethics as well as the fundamental Internet safety but beyond that there will be regulation," he added.

Replying to another question by the minister, Nadella noted that the pandemic has, across the board, accelerated digital transformation.

He pointed out how the pandemic and digital response transformed outpatient visit to a hospital, brought workflow innovation around patients and their families, reducing burden on frontline workers, and giving better tools for physicians so that they can spend more time with the patients.

He said the transformation also helped with clinical data for drug discovery. "I am looking forward to come out of pandemic as a society which is better at handling the next tail event, because we can't predict what the next tail event is," he added.

On new way of working from home, the Microsoft CEO said it will bring more flexibility in terms of time and worksites.

"I think collaboration, learning and well being are fundamentally the things that are going to transform how we think about work while giving people more flexibility," he said.

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