Microsoft hopes to protect candidates without skirting laws

Friday, August 24, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 34
By The Associated Press

Tech companies want to protect U.S. political candidates from Russian hackers ahead of the midterm elections, but could that free help count as an illegal campaign contribution?

That's the question Microsoft asked the Federal Election Commission this week.

The company is requesting the FEC's advisory opinion to make sure Microsoft's new free package of online account security protections for "election-sensitive" customers doesn't count as in-kind campaign contributions.

Microsoft says it's offering its AccountGuard service on a nonpartisan basis to candidates, party committees and certain nonprofit groups.

Obtaining the FEC's opinion could take a few months, but Microsoft says that won't stop it from moving ahead with the service.

The company tells FEC it might also work with others such as Facebook and Twitter on coordinated election security efforts.