CAMPAIGNING is no longer the preserve of big organisations like political parties and trade unions. Online platforms have given voice to individuals around the world and increasingly, the firms behind those platforms are taking activist positions of their own. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is on a mission “to connect the world”. Apple’s boss, Tim Cook, has vigorously defended customers’ privacy rights. This week the campaigning side of two other technology giants was on display.

On October 3rd Microsoft published a book that could easily be mistaken for a manifesto. Entitled “A Cloud for Global Good”, the 200-page volume offers no fewer than 78 “public-policy recommendations” in 15 “categories”, ranging from protecting privacy to preventing cybercrime. Most intriguing, Microsoft wants the computing clouds to be inclusive. They shouldn’t just benefit the rich and the able, says the firm. As income inequality widens, the book notes, “there are very real concerns about who will benefit.”

The next day 170,000 people descended on San Francisco to attend Dreamforce, a shindig organised by Salesforce, a big provider...Continue reading