Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, are ecstatic about the work of Big Tech companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft to save Ukraine from Russian conquest and even greater suffering. Zelensky has awarded each company Ukraine’s prestigious peace prize.
These companies have saved Ukraine’s digital infrastructure, allowing it to persevere against Russia and allowing day-to-day life to continue with far fewer disruptions than would have otherwise occurred. They have saved lives and lessened suffering at one of Ukraine’s most challenging hours.
A close confidant of Zelensky, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, summed things up on Amazon Web Services by saying it had “saved the Ukrainian government and economy.”
In a properly functioning environment, policymakers in Washington would want to better understand these Big Tech contributions and the accompanying political, strategic and technological triumphs that reflect well on our country and embody our core values.
Likewise, Democrats and Republicans who bash Big Tech would also explore ways these companies’ actions in Ukraine could be applied at home. This would mean better protection against cyber threats and other nefarious actions Russia would like to impose on the United States and our friends.
Some American politicians on both sides of the aisle have “big” issues with Big Tech.
Amazon is under political attack for supposedly favoring its own merchants over third-party sellers, even though the latter account for 58 percent of Amazon’s online sales.
Google supposedly impedes advertising even though it has a bustling advertising business. And Microsoft is accused of wielding monopoly-like power, even though it faces competition from the likes of IBM, Oracle, Google, Apple and SAP.
War tests character. And the crucible of Russia’s brutal invasion has shown the importance and decency of the corporate missions of Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
Regarding Amazon, Fedorov has also said, “The company literally saved our digital infrastructure — state registries and critical databased migrated to AWS cloud environment.”
Microsoft is also providing free cloud services to Ukraine through 2023. “I can say that Microsoft has already become part of the revolutionary changes in Ukraine,” Fedorov said. Since the beginning of the war, Microsoft’s total financial support to Ukraine has amounted to more than $400 million.
Google was the first company to receive the coveted peace prize in May, though details on why have been kept to a minimum for security reasons. In a tweet, Fedorov said the company “proved its bravery and devotion to freedom.”
In a Ukrainian government press release announcing the award, Fedorov said, “Literally from the first days of the war (Google) started to help us on the information front, with many initiatives for business and most importantly with the humanitarian support of our citizens.” Google also quickly joined the sanctions effort against Russia, stopping Russian media outlets from monetizing their propaganda.
Congress should push the reset button on tech-bashing legislation, learn from Ukraine about the benefits of strong information technology in the hardest of times, and apply those practices here.
Big Tech’s agility, can-do spirit and relentless determination to protect freedom should be examples of how American companies should function. It is time for cheap shots and petty politics to end.