Politics

Microsoft president says big tech has 'fundamental responsibility' to protect US voting process

Key Points
  • "We have a fundamental responsibility as companies and as a technology sector to help protect our candidates from attacks and hacking," Microsoft President Brad Smith explained at the annual Munich Security Conference.
Microsoft president Brad Smith speaks at the 56th annual Munich Security Conference on February 15, 2020.
Muller | Munich Security Conference

MUNICH — As America prepares for the 2020 presidential election, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said tech companies have a 'fundamental responsibility' to safeguard America's democratic process.

"We have a fundamental responsibility as companies and as a technology sector to help protect our candidates from attacks and hacking. To help protect the integrity of voting, from voting polls to voting results and certainly the voting process itself," Smith explained at the annual Munich Security Conference.

"We have a fundamental responsibility not just to address but to fight disinformation and I think we have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that our business models do not sap the strength of democracy itself by creating polarized communities that eat away at the core of what makes every democracy successful," he added.

Smith's comments Saturday at the security forum followed those of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said that social media companies need more guidance and regulation from governments in order to tackle the growing problem of harmful online content.

"Even if I'm not going to agree with every regulation in the near term, I do think it's going to be the thing that helps create trust and better governance of the internet and will benefit everyone, including us over the long term," Zuckerberg told an audience Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.

"In the absence of that kind of regulation, we will continue doing our best, we are going to build up the muscle to do it, to basically find stuff as proactively as possible," he said, adding that he did not want Facebook to contribute to polarization or misinformation.

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference on February 15, 2020.
Kuhlmann | Munich Security Conference

Facebook has dealt with a number of headaches over the past few years.

The company had to overcome the fallout from Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the launch of four separate antitrust-focused investigations in the U.S. into the company in 2019.

Zuckerberg said he now employs 35,000 people tasked with reviewing online content and shutting down fake accounts. He said that his teams currently suspend more than a million fake accounts each day.