Microsoft President and chief lawyer Brad Smith has a new book available, “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and The Peril of The Digital Age.” The book has already stirred headlines over Smith's criticism of the Huawei trade ban.
Now, Smith is taking aim at the U.S. government again. Geekwire points to a passage in the book where Smith claims an advisor for President Donald Trump asked Microsoft about helping the government spy on other countries.
Microsoft has previously made it clear it would not use its services and data to spy on users. However, the advisor wanted to know why that was the case.
“How can governments regulate a technology that is bigger than themselves?” Smith writes in the book. “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 says Redmond reaffirmed its position. It is perhaps ironic (but not unexpected) that the U.S. government would want tech giants to spy on other nations. A part of the trade ban on Huawei is because the government believes the company spies for the Chinese government.
Un-American and Taylor Swift
Among the most interesting snippets of Smith's book include him deeming the government's ban on Huawei as “un-American”. Smith says Huawei should be able to trade with U.S. companies and explanations around the regulations are too vague:
“Oftentimes, what we get in response is, ‘Well, if you knew what we knew, you would agree with us, ‘And our answer is, ‘Great, show us what you know so we can decide for ourselves. That's the way this country works.'”
Elsewhere, Brad Smith says pop megastar Taylor Swift considered suing Microsoft over its controversial Tay chatbot. Swift owns various trademarks associated with herself, including her name and date of birth. Previously, she attempted to trademark the lyrics “Nice to meet you. Where you been?”
Within days of its release, her team decided ‘Tay' was too close to comfort and sent an email of warning to Smith, who also acts as Microsoft's chief legal officer.
“An email had just arrived from a Beverly Hills lawyer who introduced himself by telling me: ‘We represent Taylor Swift, on whose behalf this is directed to you.'”, Smith writes. “He went on to state that ‘the name Tay, as I'm sure you must know, is closely associated with our client.' No, I actually didn't know, but the email nonetheless grabbed my attention.”