What Trump Means for Technology

Shamsheer Kailey

With Donald Trump having been elected as the new President of USA, attention has shifted to how his policies will impact various fields – one of them being technology. While Obama’s policies were pro-innovation, there are a lot of uncertainties with Trump and his policies. A US based nonprofit group, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, conducted research pulling together what Trump has said about technology and what that means for technology.

Privacy and encryption

Post the shootings in San Bernardino, FBI asked Apple to assist in investigation by weakening its encryption on the iPhone, something Apple refused to comply with. Trump was of different opinion. He said at a Campaign rally in February 2016, “Boycott Apple until such time as they give that information.”

Trump also mentioned restoring the Patriot Act which gives NSA the power to collect data in bulk on American’s phone records. Mr. Trump seems to favor security over privacy and it is currently difficult to say how far he will go with the policies on security.

Bringing foreign talent to Silicon Valley

Tech firms depend on HI-B visa to fill ranks with skilled developers. Though temporary visa, companies can sponsor the employee to remain in US indefinitely.

In a CNN Republican debate held in March 2016, Trump said that even though he uses H1-B visa for his employees, it is bad for business and the workers and should not be used. He seems to believe that the visa is used to bring cheap and skilled labor.

It is possible that Trump may either alter or abolish the visa to put an end to what he sees as the abuses of the current system.

America’s readiness for cyberware

Cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent and Forrester Research predicted that the new President will face a cybercrisis within the first 100 days.

When asked how he would handle such cyber attacks from stateless hacking groups, Trump gave a very incoherent answer showing no understanding of the gravity of the matter.

Though Mr. Trump didn’t provide a clear answer, his campaign website states “immediate review of all US cyber defences and vulnerabilities” as a description of what he would do. He has also been in favor of developing US’s offensive capabilities in order to retaliate against such attacks.

Net Neutrality

Internet Services Providers would like to charge data-intensive services such as Netflix to be in the internet fast lane. This approach has been criticized since as of now we have net neutrality – all traffic on internet is treated equally.

Trump did not display an understanding of net neutrality based on his tweet on Twitter on the subject. The topic doesn’t seem to be high on his priority list, however the US court system has come out in favor of neutrality principles.

The future of energy tech

Growth in US depends on renewable energies and the government offers subsidies as a way of tempting in customers.

In November 2012, Mr. Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by the Chinese in order to make U.S manufacturing non-competitive”. He has called climate change a hoax.

Mr. Trump wants to invest money into oil and natural gas reserves by ditching subsidies offered to renewable energy efforts.

All in all, there is uncertainty as to what Mr. Trump’s policies will look like regarding technology and innovation. Silicon Valley is the product of best brains coming together, and that should not be put under threat. Neither should a company like Tesla’s efforts to promote renewable energy.

Full report can be read here: http://www2.itif.org/2016-trump-on-tech.pdf

Dave Lee, What Trump means for tech, BBC News (November 12, 2016), http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37932661