trump, US, h-1b

With Donald Trump elected as the new president of U.S. in an election that saw a major upheaval from what most political pundits were predicting, many have been disappointed, and many fear clashes with the president’s ideology. Internet Association, the trade group which represents many of the United State’s well-known companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, as well as some of tech’s biggest startups, like Airbnb and Uber, has sent an open letter to the President-elect Donald Trump, laying out a laundry list of policy priorities for the next four years.

After congratulating the new president on his victory, Michael Beckerman, president and chief executive officer of the Internet Association, presented him with a 10-page policy agenda in the open letter. The letter also exhorted the president to leave most of the Internet policies in place, untouched.

Beckerman wrote,

The internet represents the best of American innovation, freedom and ingenuity, Businesses of all sizes are able to connect with new customers at the touch of a button and compete on a global scale in ways impossible just a decade ago. Nowhere was this more apparent than your use of the internet to connect with, and energize voters throughout the campaign.

Trump’s views on many technology issues are yet unknown to association, which along with the fact that the businessman turned politician is so unpredictable, appears to have made it cautious. Judging by the letter though, it seems like there are several key areas where he’s likely to clash with the industry.

Here is an overview of the 10 page letter, which covered a vast number of issues like copyrights, encryption and immigration.

  • The letter mentioned how future trade agreements should maximize the free flow of data across borders by eliminating laws that require information to be stored locally.
  • The association wants these agreements to protect American standards on issues like copyright against being held accountable for content posted by their users.
  • Talking about encryption, the association calls for the new government not to require companies to build back doors into their products. FYI, Trump’s statements earlier this year on the dispute between Apple and the FBI over access to data on iPhones connected to law enforcement and national security cases conflicted with the interests of the association. Conflicted BIG TIME.
  • Talking about immigration, the association mentioned that tech industry has been pushing very hard for years for looser rules on high-skilled immigration. For that matter, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also publicly urged a broader deal on immigration. This demand too conflicts what the president had mentioned during his campaigns where he called for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. The Internet association focused on programs to bring highly skilled workers into the country.

The group’s letter also subtly mentioned that it supports Facebook’s controversial program known as Free Basics. Under this program, Facebook would provide free Internet access to some services (including Facebook) to low-income populations that might not be able to afford access otherwise.

Facebook’s attempt to materialize this plan in India failed miserably, due public opposition and regulatory scrutiny. According to The Washington Post’s report last month, Facebook was in talks with officials about launching a version of the program in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Trump like everything else, probably has his own views on the demands projected by the Internet Association as well. He is a shrewd businessman and we cant really expect to indulge in policymaking that harms the US’s business interests. That said though, he has made a lot of promises that the public will probably expect him to deliver now that he has been elected. All in all, it should be interesting to see how — If — the US’s next president manages to strike a balance between the United States political and business interests.

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