Tech Talk: How Trump's Presidency Could Affect Tech

Advertisement
Advertisement

After months of the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has managed to pull off a victory to become the next president of the United States, which could cause the tech industry to face more of a challenge ahead, according to economists who analyzed Trump's platform during the campaign trail. Trump's message during the campaign period about his tech policy does not bode well for venture capitalists. One example of his behavior towards the tech industry was made manifest in February of 2016, when Trump called on consumers to boycott Apple products after the tech giant refused to give the FBI backdoor access to an iPhone device which was used during the San Bernardino shooting last December. Apple rebuffed the FBI's request on grounds of user privacy – a stance backed by many tech companies. With that in mind, privacy is expected to continue to be a matter of dispute throughout the Trump presidency.

On the issue of the National Security Agency's surveillance program, Trump seems to have a complacent view. He said he acknowledges the fact that people are eavesdropping the moment he picks up his phone, adding that he would rather err on the side of security. If that is any indication, Trump seems to suggest that privacy is the least of his concerns. He even said he wants to reinstate the Patriot Act which would restore the NSA's powers to accumulate data on the phone records of Americans, though he promised that the U.S. government under his watch would never spy on citizens.

Trump may resort to the war on terrorism to justify that potential move. During the campaign trail, Trump also vowed to push for tougher cyber security regulations by first reviewing existing cyber policies and analyzing vulnerabilities. This will come alongside a tax plan that advocates growth and a new framework for regulations in conjunction with his America-first economic policy. While Trump plans to beef up cyber policies, it remains unclear what he intends to do in the cyber domain as his team has been vague on issues related to this area.

Advertisement

On broadband and net neutrality, Trump's administration could introduce huge changes to Internet service regulation, though it is hard at the moment to forecast what changes would be coming as Trump scarcely talked about telecom policy. It is expected, however, that Trump could revamp the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality ruling. It is also not clear what Trump's plans are for the broadband access in the United States, so for now hopes for service expansions lie solely on the private sector. Trump has also severely criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and has vowed to impose huge taxes on U.S. firms that hire foreign workers to manufacture goods and services. What this means to the tech industry is that their products are likely to see price surges once Trump moves to force them to employ American talent instead of outsourcing abroad. While Trump certainly does not want to leave behind a reputation as the president who ruined Silicon Valley, some of his planned policies seem to be heading in that direction.