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Microsoft To Honour Data Localisation Requests From Governments

Microsoft has taken a lead in the data protection with the EU GDPR.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. Microsoft says it’s requiring its U.S. suppliers to offer their employees at least 12 weeks paid leave to care for a new child. The company announced the new parental leave policy Thursday. VOA

Microsoft is committed to complying with the law of the land when it comes to data privacy and will honour data localisation requests from all countries, including India.

“We will have to comply with data laws of various countries. That is mandatory for us. We are already fully compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and will do the same with other countries’ data protection laws,” Ann Johnson, Corporate Vice President, Cybersecurity Solutions Group at Microsoft, told IANS.

As the tech companies demand data to flow freely, Johnson said in order to improve current security and intelligent systems against cyber criminals who are well funded, certain sets of data have to move freely among the countries.

“I care about the flow of anonymous sets of encrypted data that must flow freely among the countries. New cyber threats are emerging and in this scenario, knowing such set of triggers can help us build improved security systems, especially at a time when bad actors are very well funded,” Johnson added.

Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

Over 1.2 billion people use Microsoft Office in 140 countries and 107 languages around the world so the task to safeguard their data is humongous.

From device to platform, Microsoft is building solutions to meet the needs of the most security-conscious organisations and the regulatory guidelines in which they operate.

According to Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph, the security researchers are today analysing trillion of cyber threat signals — including 400 billion Outlook emails, 1.2 billion Microsoft devices, over 750 million Azure Cloud accounts and over 200 global partners and commercial services.

“We are working very hard on the subject where to build our data centres. We are in nearly 40 countries now. There are government demands on a theory which is well established that if the data is located in a country, the government has more control over it,” David Heiner, Strategic Policy Advisor at Microsoft, told IANS.

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

“We are trying hard to think through what country we want to be in. Some countries where human rights are a big issue, we don’t want to be there. We don’t want our data to be turned over to such governments,” Heiner noted.

Microsoft has taken a lead in the data protection with the EU GDPR.

“It ups the stakes for tech companies for data privacy and security as penalties are gigantic. Privacy never had such hefty fines and it does have now as it has set high international standards for others to emulate,” the Microsoft executive emphasised.

On a question that there should be a single global data privacy law, Heiner said that tech companies will be very happy if there is a standard set of rules.

“But we will never get there as governments have different values and we respect that. Brazil has put a law in place which is identical to GDPR and we welcome that,” he told IANS.

Microsoft
Microsoft says will honour data localisation requests from governments. Pixabay

When it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI), the need of the hour is to build “trustworthy AI” that is fair and does not differentiate between religion, caste and colour.

“The whole idea is to build applications around AI in a trustworthy way. People will not share data and they must not be. With respect to users’ privacy, we need trusted AI systems that are safe and transparent,” Heiner explained.

To address such challenges, Microsoft has formulated a committee called AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research (AETHER), bringing together senior leaders from across the company to focus on proactive formulation of internal policies and how to respond to specific issues in a responsible way.

Also Read- Social Networking Giant Facebook Fined By British Regulator Over Data Breaches

AETHER has the task of ensuring Microsoft AI platform and experience efforts remain deeply grounded within the company’s core values and principles and benefit the broader society.

Among other steps, the company is investing in strategies and tools for detecting and addressing bias in AI systems and implementing new requirements established by the EU GDPR. (IANS)

Next Story

Microsoft Lays AI Sensors for Smart Farming, Cutting-edge Healthcare in India

"The role of AI will only get bigger for both agriculture and healthcare sectors in India. The seeds are now sown," Maheshwari added

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Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it's office. Pixabay

China, the world’s biggest agricultural producer, is leading the race when it comes to empowering farmers with Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven technologies.

The aim is clear: To help the community digitally record information to cut costs and increase yields — with just a smartphone in their hands as AI leveraged Cloud computing to make sense of the data for farmers.

India has now embarked on a journey to bring AI sensors into the fields.

For Anant Maheshwari, the company’s India President, Microsoft has begun empowering small-holder farmers in India to increase their income through higher crop yield and greater price control.

“We are working with farmers, state governments, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to create an ecosystem for AI into farming,” Maheshwari told IANS.

In some villages in Telangana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, farmers are receiving automated voice calls that tell them whether their cotton crops are at risk of a pest attack, based on weather conditions and crop stage.

“There are companies that serve equipments and capabilities for farmers. We are working with most of the stakeholders, like generic crop protection and seeds company United Phosphorus Ltd and engineering conglomerate Escorts, to create better AI-based models for farming in the country,” informed Maheshwari.

With United Phosphorus, Microsoft is working on providing front-end capabilities for farmers.

Escorts is working with Microsoft for its Cloud and AI technology enabling precision agriculture capabilities to help farmers make informed decisions and get more from their farms.

In collaboration with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Microsoft has developed an AI-Sowing App powered by Cortana Intelligence Suite including Machine Learning and Power BI.

The app sends sowing advisories to participating farmers on the optimal date to sow. The farmers don’t need to install any sensors in their fields or incur any capital expenditure. All they need is a feature phone capable of receiving text messages.

Representational image.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

After laying the initial infrastructure for smart agriculture, Microsoft has also taken further steps towards cutting-edge health care with the help from AI-based “Intelligent Cloud” and “Intelligent Edge”.

Nearly three million heart attacks happen in India every year and 30 million Indians suffer from coronary diseases.

In a novel effort to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the Indian population, Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals have launched the first-ever AI-powered heart disease risk score API (application programme interface).

It provides the capability of applying ML and AI to cardio-vascular health records to develop an Indian-specific heart risk score.

With the new heart risk score for India, Apollo Hospitals’ AI model helps gauge a patient’s risk for heart disease and provides rich insights to doctors on treatment plans and early diagnosis.

“This shows how AI-driven models can make a big difference and help the doctors in a country where health care needs.

Also Read- Apple Reselling iPhone SE Devices in US

The company has also applied AI to devices for early detection of diabetic retinopathy to prevent blindness.Microsoft India also announced a partnership with SRL Diagnostics to expand the “AI Network for Healthcare” to pathology to detect cancer.

Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director of Narayana Health, has performed over 15,000 heart operations. His hospital chain does one-sixth of heart surgeries in India.

“His hospital chain is working on Kaizala app, Power BI and Azure to run the operation smoothly.

“Dr Shetty aims to put all electronic health records on Kaizala for real-time data analysis. This gives a doctor full information about a patient and his past,” said Maheshwari.

In October, NITI Aayog entered into a partnership with Microsoft to deploy AI technologies in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, natural language computing and sustainable environment.

“The role of AI will only get bigger for both agriculture and healthcare sectors in India. The seeds are now sown,” Maheshwari added. (IANS)