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Global tech majors should take new regulations, people’s concerns seriously: Microsoft chief Brad Smith

Tech companies must do more than pay lip service to regulation while opposing every government measure, Smith warned

Global technology giant Microsoft has come to the rescue of governments across the globe that are pushing more regulatory scrutiny for the top tech companies in recent times.
Microsoft president earlier this week said that the tech sector needs to compromise with regulators and take governments and people’s concerns seriously.

“Tech is going to have to lean in…with real concrete ideas…even make concessions, so that we can all compromise and build a common platform that better protects people than … the internet as a whole has in recent past,” Smith said.

The following comments were made on the sidelines of Lisbon’s Web Summit. Smith said he was not sure the tech industry had shifted to trying to solve these problems as much as will likely be needed in the coming decade.

Tech companies must do more than pay lip service to regulation while opposing every government measure, Smith warned. “Government (will) see through that, and it’s not going to bode well for the sector…We sort of need to get real.”

Smith did not mention Apple’s recent campaign against a provision of the EU’s Digital Markets Act that would oblige the iPhone maker to let customers install software from outside its App Store, a practice called sideloading.

These words for the tech sector come at a time when Facebook has announced to rebrand itself to Meta and Microsoft touted its metaverse-related projects in a blog post, Smith tempered the ‘hype’ around the metaverse, a concept overlaying digital and physical worlds.

“We’re all talking about the metaverse as if we’re entering some new dimension. This is not like dying and going to heaven. We’re all going to be living in the real world with people,” Smith said, before calling for collaboration and interoperability in the metaverse’s development.

Facebook, used by nearly 3 billion people, changed its name to Meta amid strong criticism of its business practices to focus on building the ‘metaverse,’ a shared virtual environment it bets will succeed the mobile internet.

“I think (the metaverse) will be very big… and quite important,” Smith said. “We have to ensure that it protects privacy, digital safety, and protects against disinformation, manipulation. We have a lot to clean up.”

Reflecting on the explosion of interest in a technological vision that has existed for years, Smith noted it was important not to let the ‘hype’ obscure the longer-term technology trends.

Although early adopters of the virtual worlds known as the metaverse have blasted Facebook’s rebranding as an attempt to capitalise on a concept it did not create to deflect criticism, Smith said Big Tech actors like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Apple would likely each develop their own versions.

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