Redmond View

IT Policy in the Crosshairs

The next 12 months should prove to be interesting and somewhat unpredictable as a new U.S. administration tackles cybersecurity and tech issues.

It's a good time to be an IT professional these days as a new wave of technology ranging from machine learning, conversational computing, virtual reality, and improvements to software and computing devices emerges. But uncertainty is clouding the future of the technology industry as a changing of the guard in Washington takes place this month.

When Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, it's unclear what new technology policy agenda he'll ultimately pursue. At press time, Trump met with the largest IT leaders, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith. Certainly, a 90-minute meeting wasn't going to shed too much light on what's in store.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) raised concerns about the impact any changes to trade policy, including the potential of terminating the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and criticism about the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), might have on maintaining a competitive ecosystem. The ITIF believes improving enforcement of those agreements would go a long way to addressing those criticisms.

Trump has also indicated a preference for a heavier hand toward cybersecurity policy, suggesting during the campaign he would want to restore the Patriot Act and showing a willingness to support more government surveillance. Perhaps most concerning were his campaign statements that he believes the tech industry should be more cooperative in finding ways to stop terrorists from recruiting online. While no one wants to see terrorists use the Internet for recruiting more members, it would be unfortunate if the government issued mandates at the expense of individual rights of free expression and privacy.

Microsoft and others have gone to great lengths to strike a reasonable balance. Let's hope the new administration and the IT industry can find common ground.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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