Facebook data row: Microsoft fears more regulations, offers solution
Peggy Johnson said technology alone can help overcome the present set of worries which allegedly owe its genesis to misuse of the technology itself. "Technology can actually help the problem that is surfacing now. Things like blockchain can be a part of the solution here, because it is transparent, it is secure... It can actually be a part of the solution to some of these concerns that are being raised by the regulators," she said, adding her company is already building on such solutions through its cloud platform Azure
Global tech major Microsoft fears an increase in regulation for the sector following the privacy issues that have engulfed Facebook, but said that tools like blockchain can help take care of concerns. "All the signals say that there will probably be more regulation in the industry and our job is to comply with the regulations," its executive vice president for business development Peggy Johnson told PTI here in an interview. Johnson, who reports to the company's India-born chief executive Satya Nadella, said the Redmond, US-based corporation has always been "principalled" about privacy, and affirmed its commitment to keep the individuals' data secure. "Our belief is that our customer's data is their data. it is our job to help keep it secure for them," she said.
To illustrate the increase in regulations, Johnson who was in Mumbai on Monday cited the example of Europe which has introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regime, which tech companies have to adhere to. It can be noted that following the revelations that data of over 50 million Facebook users could have been illegally accessed for influencing electoral results by the London-based consultancy Cambridge Analytica, the social network had volunteered to be regulated more closely. Johnson said technology alone can help overcome the present set of worries which allegedly owe its genesis to misuse of the technology itself. "Technology can actually help the problem that is surfacing now. Things like blockchain can be a part of the solution here, because it is transparent, it is secure... It can actually be a part of the solution to some of these concerns that are being raised by the regulators," she said, adding her company is already building on such solutions through its cloud platform Azure.
She said the company has been working on cybersecurity and has helped as many as 125 Indian companies with protecting their data since launching the offering in mid-2016 through a dedicated centre that works closely with academia as well. On the recent car crash involving a driverless car in the US, which killed one pedestrian, Johnson said Uber did the right thing by stalling the autonomous car experiments and added that more simulation using the tech is the solution to avoid any mishaps in the future.
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"I think AI (artificial intelligence) can help that situation. I think if you can gather data and run simulations, rather than actual cars (on the road)," she said. "Stopping the testing was right thing to do till they (Uber) analyse what went wrong there. I just think going forward, any company that is testing autonomous vehicles may find that AI simulations can be a tool for them to test some of the cases," she added.
The company, which has a tie-up with Uber's domestic rival Ola, says the partnership is doing great and Microsoft will continue to help it realise the vision of creating a connected vehicle. Johnson said the company wants to "democratise AI" tools and is already working on the healthcare and the agriculture sector in the country.
In healthcare, the interventions are focused on the oncology or cancer diagnosis and treatment front, and also ophthalmology, while in agriculture, it has a tie-up with a state-run institute.
The AI-led interventions have led to a 30 per cent increase in productivity for the farmers, and also helped in preserving the quality of the soil, she said, underlining that the latter is very important from a sustainability perspective.