There is growing worldwide mistrust of the growing strength and business practices of big technology companies. The role of social media is being debated everywhere. Amid this uproar, governments and the tech industry have taken the initiative to deal with violent, terrorist propaganda. It is headed by Microsoft President Brad Smith. However, his efforts are also being questioned. Critics say the tech industry cares more for its interests than society. Despite governments spending billions of rupees, poisonous content is growing in cyberspace. Attacks on democratic elections, privacy and markets have not diminished.
Smith has taken up the role of the industry’s unofficial global ambassador. He has traveled to more than 22 countries in the past year. Acting as an intermediary between governments and tech companies to prevent the ill effects of digital technology. These efforts have yielded some good results. In November, an agreement was signed by 67 countries and 358 private companies to increase confidence in cyberspace in Paris, France. The stir intensified after 51 people died in a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March. Smith has launched a campaign to remove violent, extremist content online with the help of New Zealand Prime Minister Jesinda Ardern.
Two questions arise between the efforts of tech companies. First, whether Smith’s initiative can compensate for the damage caused by industry to consumer privacy, social stability and democracy. Smith favors imposing limited regulations on digital technology companies. These are money making ventures. The second question is — does Smith’s efforts advance Microsoft’s interests more than the public’s. Some policies of Facebook, Amazon, and Google are similar to Microsoft.
Some consider Smith’s plea to bring tech companies within the ambit of the rules to slow down the growth of Microsoft’s rivals. Dipayan Ghosh, head of the democracy project at Harvard Kennedy School, says that by adopting an ethical and idealistic stance, Microsoft has outshined the competition by putting forth its commitment to the consumer. Critics also say that the tech industry working together with the government on its own problems is like collaborating with it. Keep in mind, President Donald Trump’s government has not shown any interest in the case.