Tech firms urge Trump to reverse encryption stance

The Internet Association asks Trump to support greater encryption and policy reform

The Capitol Building

US internet companies have called on President-elect Donald Trump to support a swathe of encryption and protection reforms.

In a 12-page open letter delivered by the Internet Association, a 40-strong trade group made up of tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, recommended that Trump's administration should strengthen security despite the billionaire's anti-encryption stance during his election campaign.

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"The internet industry is a critical force for growth in our modern economy," said Internet Association CEO, Michael Beckerman. "We look forward to working closely with the Trump administration along with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to implement policies that promote innovation and cement the internet's role as a driver of economic and social progress for future generations."

"From standardising data security and breach notification, to protecting encryption standards across digital technologies, leaders in public office must recognise the importance of the internet as a place where people can share their information and ideas and start and grow their businesses from anywhere in the United States," added Beckerman.

The Internet Association has also called for a reduction of taxes on profits from intellectual property, a lift of some regulations on the sharing economy, and an agreement to put pressure on the EU Digital Single Market strategy to remove some regulatory policies which are considered "heavy handed" by some US tech firms.

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Congratulating Trump on his victory, the association was also quick to point out the important role that the internet played in his successful campaign.

"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," the letter read.

"Nowhere was this more apparent than your use of the internet to connect with, and energise voters throughout the campaign."

The letter calls for reforms to the US immigration system to encourage "high-skilled graduates and workers to stay in the United States", and encourage greater diversity for a "21st Century Workforce".

Reforms to the contentious Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance were also urged, which allows NSA agents to collect online data without warrants, and a reform to the ageing Electronic Communications Privacy Act to give internet users "the same protections for their inbox as they do for their mailbox".

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The letter can be seen not only as a plea for favourable internet regulations, but as a possible olive branch between Silicon Valley and the President-elect. Trump has famously made a number of statements that have been considered anti-US tech, such as the call for a boycott of Apple products after they failed to assist an FBI investigation into the San Bernardino shootings in California last year, and the threat of antitrust investigations against Amazon.

"The internet industry looks forward to engaging in an open and productive dialogue," said Beckerman.

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