Telangana minister worries about son’s privacy in talks with Microsoft’s Nadella

IT minister KT Rama Rao, who is known as a tech-savvy politician, raised concerns about privacy and security with the technology-enabled shoes used by his 15-year-old son.

Satya Nadella
In response to the minister's concerns, Satya Nadella said he is 'looking forward to a world where we do have rules and regulations on privacy and security'.

Data security and privacy are the biggest concerns not only for ordinary citizens but also those in power.

Telangana IT minister KT Rama Rao (KTR), who is known as a tech-savvy politician, raised concerns about privacy and security with the technology-enabled shoes used by his 15-year-old son. He approached Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella with the doubt at a virtual interaction during the ongoing global biotechnology conclave BioAsia 2021 on Tuesday (February 23).

KTR’s ministry was in August 2019 criticised by the opposition for resorting to collecting data of citizens that infringed on privacy rights.

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Rao asked Nadella, “My son Is 15. I bought him a pair of shoes which apparently have a tracking device of how many steps he has taken and how much distance he has travelled. We are all into social media apps, fitness trackers, etc. One question that has been bothering us is that of security and privacy. From a government perspective, there are things we do, things we cannot, particularly in the healthcare sector. How can we regulate it?”

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Agreeing with his concerns, Nadella stressed on the need to protect privacy, security as a human right. 

“I think you are absolutely right. Technology has become so pervasive in our lives and in our society. Speaking for a company that has been building these platforms and tools, we need to take responsibility to ensure privacy. We build for security and AI ethics and internet safety. Because these four things need to be built in our core,” Nadella said.

“One of the things that we are trying to ensure are our products, services are respecting privacy, security, AI ethics and internet safety. Beyond that, there will be regulations. Privacy as a human right is going to be recognised. When you use data in healthcare, who is benefitting? The patient should. I look forward to a world where we do have rules and regulations on privacy and security,” he replied. 

Nadella favoured uniform global norms on data privacy instead of fragmented regulations, in the backdrop of accelerated technology adoption in increasing areas, including patient care and drug discovery triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As technology turns all-pervasive in lives, societies and economy, technology developers should ensure artificial intelligence ethics, data privacy and security and internet safety at the time of engineering design and development itself, he said.

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“In privacy today, all over the world, there are regulations. Europe was the first with GDPR and it is spreading everywhere. Privacy is a human right and I think it will be recognised,” said Nadella, pointing out the need for regulations on face recognition, AI ethics akin to food safety and drug safety laws. 

Nadella says the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across the board and helped the world’s productivity and economic activity besides leading to structural changes in healthcare, innovation in patient care,  reducing the burden on  frontline workers and in offering better tools for physicians.

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