Microsoft wants to work with Trump and Congress on cybersecurity

Key Points
  • Microsoft president Brad Smith told CNBC the tech firm hopes to work with Trump as it did with Obama.
  • The company’s mission to protect people from cyber threats will not be affected by a divided Congress, Smith said.
  • Election meddling and artificial intelligence were key areas where the population needed safeguarding measures.
Technology has become a concern for many, says Microsoft president
Technology has become a concern for many, says Microsoft president

Microsoft wants to work with Congress to establish cybersecurity measures for civilians, the company's president told CNBC Wednesday.

Speaking to CNBC at the 2018 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Brad Smith said Microsoft wanted to address the "fundamental question" of safeguarding the population against cyber threats — but he said the outcome of the midterm election would not hinder that mission.

"Most technology issues so far have not been partisan issues," he said. "The big shift has been (that) the era where everyone was just excited about technology has become an era where people are excited and concerned at the same time — and that's not unreasonable."

He explained that concerns ranged from threats to democracy to the role of artificial intelligence in the future of work.

"There are important things we need to address, we need to skill the population to be prepared for a new generation of work, (and) we need to bring broadband to every corner of not just the United states, but every country," Smith told CNBC's Karen Tso.

"I think the Democrats will be interested in some of these things, Republicans will too, so with a little luck (and) a lot of hard work perhaps we can build some bipartisan support."

He added that the company also wanted to work with the President Donald Trump administration to tackle technological dangers to society.

"We need to find ways to work with President Trump as we worked with President (Barack) Obama," Smith said.

Thinking globally

As well as working with a newly divided Congress, Microsoft was looking to create a global forcefield against security threats.

"We're hoping to see governments as well as companies and organizations from across civil society endorse the kinds of principles that we need: principles that will protect civilians, principles that will protect elections, principles that will protect the availability of the internet," Smith said, explaining that those principles were always under threat.

Security is a core element of Microsoft's agenda. Speaking at the Microsoft Future Decoded conference in London last week, CEO Satya Nadella voiced his support for privacy to be considered a human right.

Last year, the company acquired Israeli cybersecurity firm Hexadite for a reported $100 million.

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