Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft writes on the Microsoft On the Issues Blog:

New technology, powerful handheld computing devices, and inexpensive data storage have enabled a wide array of online services that help people connect, collaborate and get things done.  Today, more than two billion people use the Internet. That’s a staggering number, and it has doubled in the last five years.

These trends have fueled the adoption of business models that rely heavily on the collection and processing of data. The growth of cloud computing services, which enable online storage and processing of vast amounts of data, offers great benefits to society.

However, consumers, privacy advocates and policy makers alike have legitimate concerns about potential threats to data protection and personal privacy online and in the cloud.

Microsoft understands these concerns and is actively working to address them.

Years ago, we recognized the critical importance of privacy to our customers. And, as a result, we have invested heavily to build what we believe are some of the strongest privacy programs in our industry, which are part of our broader support for Trustworthy Computing

Yesterday in Paris, Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, described Microsoft’s commitment to “Privacy by Design” at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress.  Privacy by Design means different things to different people, and Jean-Philippe’s remarks provide a review of our company’s approach.

You can read Jean-Philippe’s prepared remarks at www.microsoft.com/privacy, where you can also find greater detail on our approach to Privacy by Design.

For Microsoft, Privacy by Design means an inherent respect for privacy, backed by mature and comprehensive privacy policies and protections.  It means we build products and operate our services with privacy in mind, and we run our business as an accountable technology leader.  

We’ve been addressing Internet privacy issues since we launched the MSN Network in 1994, and our commitment to privacy programs has grown steadily. Today you can see that commitment in our newest products and services – like the Kinect for Xbox360 video game controller and Microsoft Health Vault online health information management platform. Each was designed and built in cooperation with privacy experts throughout the company.

Our commitment to Privacy by Design is backed by people – more than 40 full-time privacy professionals, supported by a community of 400 more across the company and around the world – who work every day to give individuals more control over their personal information and to empower organizations to manage data more responsibly. More than 52,000 people have taken our internal privacy training course and our employees are encouraged to supplement their privacy knowledge in a variety of ways.  

The Internet and cloud computing have enormous social and economic potential.   But for governments, business and individuals to reap the full benefits, our customers must have confidence that we will respect -- and protect -- the privacy of the data they entrust to us.  We are committed to earning that trust every day.