Trump’s surprise victory has left many wondering what the future holds for tech policy. Here's our initial take on three major issues:
- Tech companies could be forced to change encryption policies to provide backdoor access to the government. Trump supported the court order calling for Apple to facilitate access to an encrypted iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter, and asked consumers to boycott the company until it complied. This is at odds with the current encryption policies of major tech companies and civil liberties groups. End users are sharing an increasing amount of personal data and need to feel confident that their data — and privacy — are protected. Requiring companies to provide backdoor access to governments would violate consumers' trust and likely lead to a decline in users of these companies’ products.
- The current regulations around net neutrality will likely change. Although Trump has not released official statements around the topic of net neutrality, he’s expressed distaste for President Obama’s approach to the topic. Net neutrality is the concept that all data transmitted over the internet should be treated equally. Trump could try to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality rules, enabling a new Republican-leaning FCC or Congress to put forth a new, less regulatory proposal or legislation. This could result in different price points for various data types and enable service providers to throttle data delivery.
- Changes in trade policies could negatively impact US mobile and telecom companies. Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the worst trade deal in US history, has strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and has proposed taxing US companies that choose to manufacture goods overseas. Such policy changes would harm tech companies that manufacture overseas, like IBM and Apple, thereby making devices like the iPhone much more expensive for US consumers. Further, ending TPP negotiations would eliminate potential international cooperation among telecom companies to make global mobile data more accessible.
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