Just appointed Microsoft’s vice chair, Brad Smith is one of the tech industry’s top executives. Smith is also an attorney and represents the software company when it comes to matters of policy. The newly re-written paperback edition of his book, “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,” explores the balance between rewards and existential risks posed by technology through the lenses of cyberattacks, digital sovereignty and the pandemic.

Highlights

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chair, says he’s encouraged by the rapid progress the Biden administration has made in taking steps to address cybersecurity. “There’s a lot more work ahead of us, including new legislation on Congress. But as I said at the time, this was sort of a moment of reckoning. It was a call to action, and I do think societally — both in the government and the private sector — the last seven or eight months, in particular, have been marked with people heeding the call, and that’s good news.” (Washington Post Live)
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chair, says countries should create a digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians from the harm caused by cyberattacks, adding that he believes it’s time the United States leans into this idea in a bigger way. “To me, it’s something we should think about constantly. If we said we won’t harm civilians in a times of war, why should we, for a moment, tolerate this kind of harm to civilians in what should be a time of peace.” (Washington Post Live)
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chair, says the cybersecurity summit that was held at the White House earlier this year was a “significant step forward” because it brought together groups from different industries. “If we’re going to strengthen cybersecurity it will require a whole of society effort that brings us all together.” (Washington Post Live)

Brad Smith

As Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith leads a team of more than 1,500 business, legal and corporate affairs professionals located in 54 countries and operating in more than 120 nations. He plays a key role in spearheading the company’s work on critical issues involving the intersection of technology and society, including cybersecurity, privacy, artificial intelligence, environmental sustainability, human rights, immigration and philanthropy. In his recent bestselling book, coauthored with Microsoft’s Carol Ann Browne, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, Smith urges the tech sector to assume more responsibility and calls for governments to move faster to address the challenges that new technologies are creating. The New York Times has called Smith “a de facto ambassador for the technology industry at large” and The Australian Financial Review has described him as “one of the technology industry’s most respected figures.” He has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress and other governments on these key policy issues.

Smith joined Microsoft in 1993, first spending three years in Paris leading the legal and corporate affairs team in Europe. In 2002, he was named Microsoft’s general counsel and spent the following decade leading work to resolve the company’s antitrust controversies with governments around the world and companies across the tech sector. Over the past decade, Smith has spearheaded the company’s work to advance privacy protection for Microsoft customers and the rights of DREAMers and other immigrants, including bringing multiple lawsuits against the U.S. government on these issues.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Smith was an associate and then partner at the law firm of Covington and Burling, where he is still remembered as the first attorney in the long history of the firm to insist (in 1986) on having a personal computer on his desk as a condition for accepting a job offer. In addition to his work at Microsoft, Smith is active in several civic organizations and in the broader technology industry. He has served on the Netflix board of directors since 2015 and chairs the board of directors of both Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program.

Smith grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, where Green Bay was the big city next door. He attended Princeton University, where he met his wife, Kathy. He earned his J.D. from Columbia University Law School and studied international law and economics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. He can be followed on Twitter and LinkedIn.