Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called on Europe on Thursday to provide clearer rules on privacy and data retention issues as his company pushes into remote computing services.
Ballmer, whose company is investing heavily in data centres and cloud computing services, said there needs to be a regulatory regime that outlines the responsibilities of companies when providing those services.
"We do need some help from government," Ballmer said. "We need a clear regulatory framework that allows innovation to proceed."
Ballmer made the remarks in London during a roundtable at the Government Leaders Forum, an event sponsored by his company that addresses technology issues facing European governments.
Ballmer was joined by UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission and commissioner for the European Union's Digital Agenda, in a wide-ranging forum that touched on government IT use, e-health and copyright issues.
During the discussion, Ballmer said a Swedish company that develops a health care application using data centres in Finland but providing services to consumers in the UK needs to know clear rules around data integrity and privacy.
"There needs to be a single framework," Ballmer said. "We need to know what the responsibilities and obligations are."
Kroes used the roundtable to address why Europe needs what's being called a "single digital market," where regulation differences in areas such as copyright law are holding up legal cross-border music services, she said. There is an "illegal single market" across Europe for music due to piracy, she said.
The European Commission has been aiming to change copyright clearance and cross-border licensing. Those issues are part of the Digital Agenda, a five year telecommunications plan unveiled in May that addresses other issues such as broadband adoption and cybersecurity readiness.