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💬 "Should Big Tech Stay Out of Politics?"

Sway - A New York Times Podcast

Photo by Sara Kurfeß / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Kara Swisher
Guest: Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
Category: Biz & Tech | 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:44] “We have strived and actually believe that it is of value to have relationships across the aisle, which means that we’ve had a PAC (Political Action Committee)that supports candidates on a roughly comparable bipartisan basis. We, nonetheless, were dismayed to find that 20% of the people who were members of Congress and who had received our donations had voted against certification of the electoral college. We were supporting that 20% not because we ever anticipated they would vote on something like this the way we did — we obviously did not — but they were working on other issues, issues that were relevant to our business, to technology, to our employees, to immigration issues or the others.”

[3:12] “When I learned in January that that donation [to Senator Josh Hawley - a leading force in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election results] had been made in the early part of December, it did not bring an enthusiastic beginning to my morning when I woke up and read that email. I personally think the wrong choice was made, that we don’t live in a mistake-free world. We’re best served when we just acknowledge that. There are some things we did, believe me, if we could have done it again, I don’t think it would have been done that way at all.”

[5:08] “[W]e’ve long believed that the country would be better served if there was more public funding of elections, if there was less money in elections. We were dismayed by the whole Citizens United decision, which increased the amount of money going into elections. I don’t think any of this is good for democracy. It is the democracy we have today. I think it is a democracy we can reform, but we have participated in the world that exists, even while we seek something better.”

[7:25] “[W]e will suspend for the duration of this electoral cycle all donations, all contributions to any member of Congress who voted against the certification of the electoral college, to any state legislator who did the same, to any party organization that opposed the certification of the electoral college.”

[12:04] “[S]hould we become apolitical? Well, another way you could phrase that […] — should we simply withdraw from the world of politics? And I would say, absolutely not because the issues that connect technology to the world of politics are of such fundamental importance for the future. It is the future of privacy protection, the future of cybersecurity of digital safety, of antitrust and competition regulation. I think this is where the future of technology increasingly is going to be decided in the world of politics.”

[12:50] “I think we shouldn’t over-pivot […] on the PAC. First, we should just recognize that only 3% political donations in the United States come from political action committees in companies. And then we should recognize that actually most of the political currents of our day around these issues are flowing fastest outside the United States. And these are countries that don’t have this system.”

[27:33] “I do think we’re going to have a world where there are going to be regulators in each country with more responsibility for technology. Interestingly, perhaps ironically, the U.S. may be the laggard, not the forward leaner. And there’s so many questions that would have to be sorted out, including where would you put this person. Is it in the FTC? Is it in the FCC? Is it in some new agency? But regulation is coming. And within the next two years, it’s so clearly arriving in many countries, especially the European Union, India, other places. It will come to our own shores, too.”

Rating: 🍎🍎🍎

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 50 min | 🗓️ 02/08/2021
✅ Time saved: 48 min