Microsoft President Warns Companies May Look Past Australia for Data Storage

Microsoft's Australian president has fired back to Australia’s controversial anti-encryption laws, stating that companies are “longer comfortable storing data in Australia” following the introduction of controversial data encryption legislation.

At a Canberra event on Wednesday, Microsoft president Brad Smith warned that anti-encryption laws are a threat to foreign investment into Australia, and could ultimately hurt Australia's standing on the tech scene.

Smith told the audience that “when I travel to other countries, I hear companies and governments say 'we are no longer comfortable putting our data in Australia', so they are asking us to build more data centres in other countries.”

At the end of last year, the Coalition passed laws to grant intelligence agencies access to encrypted messages. This world-first is raising privacy concerns amongst the technology industry and broader economy.

“The big concern you hear most often is that it would create a backdoor to undermine technology in a fundamentally important way. It has not changed, to date, anything that we have had to do in Australia but we do worry about some areas of the law in terms of potential consequences."” Smith stated.

Smith concluded “we will have to sort through those issues but if I were an Australian who wanted to advance the Australian technology economy, I would want to address that and put the minds of other like-minded governments at ease”.

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has refuted Smith's claims, adding that "agencies in the UK already have similar powers and other nations are considering their options."

"The claims the legislation will drive tech companies offshore are similarly flawed," the ASD stated.

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