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Advancing privacy in Europe and a new era of personal computing
By: Jean Gonié, Director of Privacy, EMEA Policy
07 December 2012

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It’s an important time for privacy in Europe and globally, and I want to share few of my insights from recent events in Brussels we organized around Privacy and the revision of the EU Data Protection Directive.

On Tuesday, November 13, we kicked off the week with the breakfast event @Microsoft Conversations on Privacy, where I had the pleasure to moderate a panel discussion on developments in transatlantic data protection. The panelists included Marielle Gallo, Member of European Parliament, Rapporteur of JURI Committee on Data Protection Regulation; David Vladeck, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission; and Jerôme Déroulez, Justice Counselor, French Permanent Representation to the European Union.  Nearly 70 privacy staffers, practitioners, lawyers and other stakeholders attended.

With new European privacy regulation that would apply directly across all 27 EU member states under consideration, the panel had a lot to discuss. One area of strong consensus was the tremendous potential the digital economy holds for companies on both sides of the pond. Accordingly, the importance of interoperability between privacy regulation in the EU, U.S. and elsewhere was made evident during the panel, as well as the importance of empowering consumers to make better privacy choices and control their own data. Do Not Track was cited as an example of how to achieve this empowerment, and our approach to DNT in Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 shows that we agree.

As the proposed changes to the existing Data Protection regime in Europe are certain to have an impact on citizens and on companies established both inside and outside the EU, the audience and the panel engaged in a robust discussion of how to strike the right balance between data protection and business growth, develop innovation and job creation. The discussion brought up the very important connection between the trust people place in the Internet and the growth of the digital economy. The real cost and impact of the proposed Regulation also came up as a central issue in the debate, and there was consensus on the need for legal certainty for both the European companies and the Member States. 

We live tweeted the discussion from @MSFTPrivacy.

During the panel, Brendon Lynch, our Chief Privacy Officer, announced the culmination of a series of discussions that we convened to advance a global conversation aimed at generating shared ideas and new thinking in support of alternative approaches to privacy protection. As people here in Brussels read the summary report, we heard a lot of agreement that more focus on data use, coupled with strong organizational responsibility, represents a promising path toward realizing the potential of big data while sustaining privacy.

Further in the week, on Thursday, 15 November, Brendon Lynch delivered an IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress keynote detailing how we’re moving from an era of personal computers to an era of personal computing, with significant implications for privacy and data protection. Brendon underscored how we increasingly rely on powerful devices that connect to the cloud; more natural ways to interact with technology; and the ability to glean insights from big data. He explained how we’ll need to address privacy in this exciting era of personal computing through a combination of effective self-regulation, consistent government legislation and market innovation. You can read Brendon’s remarks as delivered here.

These recent activities are great examples of how we engage with a broad range of privacy stakeholders around the world to advance Privacy in Europe and globally and help put people first. We look forward to continue our engagement in the year ahead to develop globally consistent privacy frameworks and help strike the right balance in Europe between data protection and business growth.

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