5 Tech Issues Donald Trump Will Face as President

A number of policy issues could come up during his tech meetings.

December 14, 2016, 4:21 PM
PHOTO: President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of technology executives at Trump Tower, Dec. 14, 2016, in New York City.
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, Larry Page, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google), Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, Vice President-elect Mike Pence listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of technology executives at Trump Tower, Dec. 14, 2016, in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

— -- Donald Trump has been meeting with his political rivals for weeks as he fills up his Cabinet, and now he's meeting with another group of former would-be foes: tech titans.

The president-elect, who is known for his prolific use of Twitter to disseminate his message, has been at odds with Silicon Valley at various points during the campaign, and there are a number of tech-related issues that he will have to face during his administration.

Here is a rundown of some of the biggest issues on which Trump and his team will likely have to work with the tech giants, some of whom he has insulted.

1. Immigration

Though not solely a tech issue, Trump's plans relating to immigration could have a direct impact on the tech world.

The ability to hire tech-savvy workers and to make contracts with foreign companies with access to cheaper labor costs have become important building blocks in the tech world, and the prospect of changing those policies could significantly affect the industry's practices.

An open letter addressed to Trump and signed by more than 140 tech leaders read, "We believe that America's diversity is our strength. Great ideas come from all parts of society, and we should champion that broad-based creative potential. We also believe that progressive immigration policies help us attract and retain some of the brightest minds on earth — scientists, entrepreneurs and creators."

2. Net Neutrality

Net neutrality — the principle that internet service providers should not reduce the speed of service for certain content or charge more for access to certain websites — is an issue that Barack Obama's administration has championed.

In 2014, Obama and his team pushed to have the Federal Communications Commission include broadband internet service in its classification of a public utility.

Trump spoke out against the move, calling it an "attack on the internet" in a tweet. He appeared to imply that conservative media sites could be unfairly targeted, even though that is the opposite intention of net neutrality.

The open letter also addressed tech leaders' concerns about his understanding of how the internet works.

"We also believe in the free and open exchange of ideas, including over the internet, as a seed from which innovation springs. Donald Trump proposes 'shutting down' parts of the Internet as a security strategy — demonstrating both poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works," the letter stated.

3. Encryption

The topic of technology encryption came up in the wake of the shooting in San Bernardino, California, when Apple refused government calls to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters.

Trump told his Twitter followers at the time that he would be using only his Samsung phone rather than his iPhone until Apple turned over information about the shooter to authorities and later called for a boycott of all Apple products.

"The phone's not even owned by this young thug that killed all these people. The phone's owned by the government, OK. It's not even his phone," he said at an event in South Carolina in February, referring to the fact that the iPhone was issued by his employer. "But [Apple CEO] Tim Cook is looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is. But Apple should give up. They should get the security or find other people."

4. Cybersecurity

With the new reports about the role that Russian hacking could have played in the election, the question of cybersecurity is emerging as a hot topic in the transition to the new administration.

Trump called for an increase in cybersecurity throughout the federal government but did not specify how that would be tackled.

During the campaign, he said there was a need to "conduct a thorough review of United States cyberdefenses and identify all vulnerabilities. And we have to do that immediately."

"We will improve the Department of Defense's cybercapabilities — a new threat, a new problem, very expensive, and we're not doing very well with cyber," he said.

5. Tech Manufacturing Relocation

Trump took Apple to task during the campaign for having many of its products made outside the U.S., and considering his push to bring jobs back stateside, this could be an issue for him to bring to the forefront.

"We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries," he said at a rally in January.

Apple does much of its manufacturing in China.

Bonus: Direct Attacks on Tech CEOs

Trump has not shied from criticizing private companies (like Boeing) or individuals (such as a local union president in Indiana after a deal with Carrier not to move jobs to Mexico), and the same holds true when the two are combined.

During the campaign, Trump connected his unfavorable view of Amazon and The Washington Post — he repeatedly called it unfair and at one point suspended its reporters' credentials to cover his campaign events — to the two companies' owner, Jeff Bezos.

Trump took his criticism onto the campaign trail as well.

"I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence, and, I've gotta tell you, we've got a different country than we used to have ... He owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems," Trump said at an event in Texas on Feb. 26.

For his part, Bezos responded by posting a video on Twitter saying that he would save him a space on a rocket.

Bezos is one of the tech entrepreneurs meeting Trump's team at Trump Tower today in New York.

Another attendee who has come under fire from Trump is Apple's Cook. Trump repeatedly complained over the years that the iPhone should have a bigger screen.

In July 2013, in another tweet about how iPhones should have a larger screen, Trump wrote, "Bring back Steve Jobs!" Jobs died in October 2011.

When there was speculation that the company would introduce larger screens, Trump appeared to suggest he should get credit for the move.

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