Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Twitter consider themselves supranational corporations. When they speak of “securing democracy,” they mean removal of Trump, or “prevention of another Trump situation.” Microsoft had no problem in colluding with the Russian government and acting under its directions in the US, even at the height of the anti-Russian hysteria.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, the Russian government was less than enthusiastic about the tech sector’s stronger public stance. In November 2018, a Microsoft employee in Redmond applied for a visa to attend an AI conference in Moscow. He was summoned more than two thousand miles to the Russian embassy in Washington, DC, for a “visa interview.” As he walked into the interview room, a consular official handed him an envelope and politely asked him to read the two documents inside. The official then asked our employee to take the documents back to Redmond to hand them over to Microsoft executives. The interview ended less than five minutes after it had begun, and the employee’s visa was granted. I soon received an email with the two documents attached. They were printed copies of English-language versions of official Russian news stories. Both were reports detailing my statements made that August, noting the Russian government’s disagreement with my characterizations. As one report concluded, “The Russian authorities have repeatedly refuted any accusations of interference in elections abroad, including through hacker attacks.” Russia’s message to Microsoft reflected the bind that many American tech firms now confront. On the one hand, US politicians understandably push us to take strong stances against foreign hacking. But on the other, these steps lead to foreign pressure on the companies themselves.” – Smith, Brad; Browne, Carol Ann. Tools and Weapons (p. 86-87), 2018
In response to that, Microsoft changed the description of what they call Strontium from “widely associated with the Russian government” (1) to “operating from the territory of Russia” (2). Microsoft betrayed the US for what? For an employee’s visa?!
Here, betrayal means violation of 18 U.S. Code § 951 “acting in the US as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General”, rather than treason. In exchange for visas for employees visiting conferences in Moscow, Microsoft executives ordered their employees to disinform the US cybersecurity experts, government agencies, and Microsoft customers about an important cybersecurity issue. This admission is unique. They really imagine themselves above the law.
What they call Strontium is not a group of people, but an imaginary entity out of the conspiracy theory propagated by the Democratic party, Crowdstrike, and Spygate perpetrators. The logical fallacy is treating multiple unrelated actors (cyber-criminals in this case) as a single entity.
Microsoft’s assertions about “Strontium” were incorrect both before and after its executives became Kremlin agents. But “before”, they might have been mistaken, and the mistake could be corrected. The “after” assertion became vague, and hard to correct. Further, the change put the Microsoft employees, partners, customers, cybersecurity community etc. on notice that challenging this assertion is dangerous.
Also notice that executives of other tech firms, known to Brad Smith, also find themselves in a “bind” when the Russian government solicits them to betray the US. Is there anything they would not do (or have not done) for the government of China?
Brad Smith and Microsoft declared Joe Biden “President Elect” on November 7.
PS: This is the current Microsoft’s vision of cybersecurity:
“Camille Stewart, head of security policy and election integrity for Android and Google Play, may have put it best when she said, ‘Racism is inherently a cybersecurity issue because people are at the core of how security controls are adopted and how technology is used. If we do not address issues of systemic racism, the processes and institutions that we are building security into are inherently vulnerable.'”