Post-NSA governments need to regain citizens' trust - Microsoft VP Nadella

By Danny Palmer
11 Dec 2013 View Comments

Governments must reassure citizens that they can trust technology in the aftermath of the NSA surveillance leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which demonstrated the extent to which authorities across the "democratic world" are snooping on the lives of ordinary people. 

That's according to Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group and a candidate for the role of CEO. He made the comments on Tuesday while speaking during a Q&A at the Le Web conference in Paris, France.

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"Businesses and users are going to use technology only if they can trust it," he said.

"Clearly now it's the responsibility, I think, of governments - the US government included - to restore that trust. The only mechanisms that I think we have learned is that the respect for the liberties of people and the rule of law is the one way to have societies thrive."

Governments around the world, but particularly the US, have been damaged by revelations about their internet surveillance practices, which included collecting data about citizens by hacking into the systems of technology firms including Yahoo and Google. 

Others have been compelled by secret orders from secret courts to hand over information at the behest of the security services. 

Nadella argued that the US government needs to rethink its policies when it comes to online surveillance of citizens, even if that means enforcing legislation that protects privacy against government agencies and agents.

"The surveillance system has to be reformed, and the best way to reform it is to have laws govern it that respect individual privacy, both for the citizens of the United States and the citizens of the world. That's the stance we have taken, and we are going to actively push for that," he said.

Many consider Nadella to be a front runner to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer is set to step down next year, but Nadella wouldn't be drawn whether he intended to become Microsoft's next CEO.

"It's a great time to be at Microsoft for what we are doing, and day-to-day it's about getting focused on what I'm doing, and I'm excited to be doing that," he said, adding: "There is no news!"

Nadella also discussed other subjects including Microsoft's recently released Xbox One games console and pointed to the introduction of user interface features such as voice control and touchscreens in all technology products.

Venturing into that territory would once again put Microsoft in direct competition with Apple and Google.

"I think that's going to be the next revolution. We have our shot at it like anybody else, and we're going to go strong," Nadella said.

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