Microsoft’s President Brad Smith recently released his book Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age which opened a pandora’s box. Earlier we reported how Brad Smith called the ban placed on Huawei un-American, and later it was revealed that Taylor Swift had issues with Microsoft’s Tay Chatbot.
Now Geekwire has quoted a passage from his book which revealed how the Trump administration wanted Microsoft to help spy on other countries. The paragraph read, “As an American company, why won’t you agree to help the US government spy on people in other countries?” Brad Smith noted that Microsoft made it clear to the government that they weren’t open to any discussion on the issue.
I pointed out that Trump Hotels had just opened a new property in the Middle East as well as down the street on Pennsylvania Avenue. ‘Are these hotels going to spy on people from other countries who stay there? It doesn’t seem like it would be good for the family business.’
– Brad Smith on Trump’s adviser asking why Microsoft doesn’t help them spy on people
Brad Smith’s book is full of similar complex legal and ethical challenges faced by companies like Microsoft. He noted that Trump wasn’t the first President to have issues with Microsoft. The book includes instances of disagreement between Microsoft and the Obama administration regarding issues ranging from privacy to facial recognition policy.
How can governments regulate a technology that is bigger than themselves? This is perhaps the single greatest conundrum confronting technology’s regulatory future. But once you ask the question, one part of the answer becomes clear: Governments will need to work together.
– Brad Smith