Government Security & Privacy Society

Of Tech and Trump

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Tech and the tech industry continue to loom large in the responses to this year’s election and to play multiple interesting roles in its aftermath. Here are some of the ways tech is intersecting with politics right now.

Our Chief Program Officer Simone Ross co-wrote this piece on Backchannel about how the tech industry can and should lead in major social and political areas during Trump’s presidency. Ross writes that it’s time for the tech giants to be more crafty in their legal and political strategies, and to “forge partnerships” with the incipient administration – but only when appropriate. She also cautions against waiting for the “feds to offer us things like national broadband access,” and instead advocates that we “decentralize” our efforts.

Russian hackers attempting to affect the outcome of the election by infiltrating email servers and networks run by political parties and activists, and subsequently distributing private information from Democratic networks, has become a huge tech story. The New York Times wrote this damming article that displays in impressive detail the series of events and mistakes that led to the hacks. Now likely Russian hacking has been shown to have affected several Democratic congressional campaigns as well.

If you were not familiar with the term “filter bubble” before November 8th, you probably are now. Hundreds of major news outlets from all over the world ran stories quoting David Kirkpatrick’s interview with Mark Zuckerberg, in which the Facebook CEO said it was a “crazy idea” that fake news affected the election’s outcome, and argued that no real filter bubble effect actually existed. Saturday Night Live even featured a skit poking fun of people living in “The Bubble,” the week after Techonomy 16. Prompted in part by the extensive global reaction after Zuckerberg’s appearance at Techonomy 2016, Facebook announced on December 15th a plan to combat fake news.

On December 14th, leaders of some of the most powerful and influential tech companies joined Donald Trump in New York to discuss the tech industry’s role in the years ahead (this article by Kara Switsher has all the details). The meeting took place on the heels of the president-elect’s announcement that Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick would be joining his economic strategy and policy advisory group.

Shortly after the meeting between the tech leaders and President-Elect Trump, Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick sat down with Oz Sultan, who advised the Trump campaign on tech counterterrorism and inner city policy and has functioned as an official Trump Surrogate, in a special episode of Techonomy Live (below). The lively and at times contentious interview focused on the ways Sultan expects the Trump administration to use technology, the social media strategy of ISIS and how to combat it, the aforementioned Russian hacking, and much more. This special episode of Techonomy Live can be viewed in its entirety below.

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