While tech billionaires meet with President-elect Donald Trump, hundreds of tech workers vow to never build a Muslim registry system.
The CEOs of several large-cap tech companies were in New York on Wednesday to meet with the President-Elect. According to sources, the meeting was cordial with both sides seeking to strike a reconciliatory tone.
Several tech industry observers have expressed concerns about a Trump Presidency. As candidate, Mr. Trump had struck an extremely aggressive tone against some of the companies represented in the meeting. Examples include calling for a boycott of Apple products when the company refused to help the FBI unlock a phone used by the couple linked to the San Bernardino terror attack.
Despite past differences, both sides agreed that well-balanced trade deals would benefit the industry and the American worker. This mirrors a pledge Mr. Trump made to negotiate ‘fairer’ trade deals with countries around the world.
The first test of this stance will be review of the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mr. Trump railed against the election. However, the deal has widespread support from the tech community and some of the countries have already ratified the agreement in its current form.
Another issue which came up was cybersecurity. While the specifics of the conversation were not reported, the issue has dominated the headlines with reports of Russian hackers trying to disrupt the election. While the national intelligence community is currently divided on the cause and who this activity benefited it is in agreement that the hackers came from Russia.
One company not in attendance was Yahoo. Verizon is currently considering to purchase the once prominent internet company, but news was released today that it was the target of another data breach which dates to 2013. According to sources that breach compromised the records of nearly 1 billion users – roughly all of Yahoo’s users.
Beyond the growing specter of cybersecurity, another issue which may have come up is the 15-year ‘War on Terrorism’. The war began in earnest following the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Mr. Trump has made winning the war a hallmark of his security agenda but the battle has increasingly moved from the real world to cyberspace.
One potential sticking point could be plans to create a registry of Muslims living and working in the U.S. While any such action is bound to face legal challenges, an online petition of more than 600 hundred U.S.-based tech workers vowing not to assist the effort has gained steam in recent days.
To date, the petition has been signed by workers at Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter among others. If successful, this would draw a line in the sand on issues of privacy, but some security advisors might see this as impugning national security.