October 15, 2019

Beware of Tech Companies Playing Government

“Last April, when 34 technology companies announced their membership of a Cybersecurity Tech Accord, it was portrayed as proof that the private sector was, at long last, taking responsibility for protecting civilians online — something governments had conspicuously failed to do. Since then, the ranks of signatories to the self-imposed cybersecurity standards has more than doubled.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the Chinese tech giant, is not among them, but its co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, certainly agrees that companies should rush in where governments have so far feared to tread. To wit, his plan to create an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), which will facilitate online trade across borders. “Innovation always develops much faster and I think future laws should not be driven only by governments; they should be driven by private sector and all stakeholders together,” Ma said. Another example of this is the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, backed by Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Samsung Electronics Co. — and announced by President Macron last year—which underlines the companies’ ambitions to draft standards in the fight against election tampering, compromised electronic components and software hacks. “

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