Tech Companies Meet with Trump to Discuss Innovation

By Caroline Strickland
Technology & Innovation Writer

The Trump Administration’s first days in office have followed the tone of both the campaign and transition-period: bold. There is no exception for technology. On every front, the Administration’s actions have been bold and decisive. This includes movement in the Intelligence communities, meetings with top Silicon Valley executives, and sanctions abroad.

Before officially taking office, then-President Elect Trump met with the top brass of monumental tech companies, including Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Tim Cook of Apple.

During the course of the election, the presidential candidate had criticized both of the individuals and the actions of their companies. Also present was Elon Musk of Tesla, Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook, and Peter Thiel, an investor and one of the few in Silicon Valley who supported Trump’s campaign. Mr. Thiel also arranged the meeting in Manhattan at Trump Tower.

The meeting was bannered as a chance to make amends with these and others, as well as the beginning of a conversation about innovation and continuing business. Trump told the gathering that his operations had no chain of command, and that the executives should feel free to reach out to him at any time.

It’s no secret that the President is known to share his thoughts via his social media platforms, especially Twitter. The unusual medium has allowed him to directly share his thoughts with the public, skipping the filter of any sort of media or journalism. While this practice has mixed reviews, there is a technical aspect that is beginning to concern some familiar with the security protocols integrated into smartphones.

Should the President continue using his original phone, there are some concerns that his and other’s security will be jeopardized.

Abroad, the administration has begun making waves in foreign intelligence operations. On February 2nd, the Treasury Department announced some changes to U.S. sanctions against Russia in light of the interference in the election.

At a glance, the document released is somewhat confusing. It’s titled “Authorizing Certain Transactions with the Federal Security Service,” and mentions “information technology products.” The policy has taken on mixed reviews. Some have decried it as a move away from America’s position against Russia. Others have pointed out that small changes in sanctions are somewhat routine in order to fix unintended consequences of these sanctions.

Interestingly, this move may reveal the administration’s stance on both intelligence technology and a willingness to work with domestic tech companies, as mentioned above. In prior years, it has been somewhat difficult for tech companies to receive permits to sell in Russia. This may be the beginning of a gateway in, yet one still has to keep their eyes on trade policy with China, where tech companies not only build products but have a lively market.

All-in-all, the Trump Administration will likely shape the tech industry’s path as well as the country’s intelligence communities for many years to come.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.

Contact Caroline at
caroline.strickland@student.shu.edu

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