Trump, tech leaders avoided encryption and surveillance talk at summit

Similar summits could take place as often as once per quarter

A Wednesday summit between some of the most powerful people in technology and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump covered a wide ground but avoided discussion on two of the biggest issues facing the industry: the use of encryption and government surveillance.

Trump's team called the meeting the start of "a conversation and partnership in order to spark innovation and create more jobs in the U.S." and said it could be repeated as often as once a quarter once he assumes the presidency.

Many in Silicon Valley had been vocal opponents of Trump prior to the election, but in meeting executives of the region's biggest companies on Wednesday, Trump sought to gain their support. In particular, he asked them for "specific innovative solutions that have been blocked by narrow thinking in Washington," his team said in a statement.

Among the issues discussed were:

Job creation for American workers, international trade barriers, U.S. trade and access to the Chinese market, lower taxes, repatriation of profits held overseas, improving U.S. physical and digital infrastructure, cybersecurity, protecting intellectual property rights, government software, technology in education, improved vocational training, reducing government bureaucracy and greater accountability in the government procurement process.

The repatriation of profits has been a hot-button issue, with U.S. tech companies unwilling to bring back profits held overseas because they would have to pay U.S. taxes. Trump's team signaled some sympathy for corporations by describing the taxes as "prohibitive."

Missing from that long list of subjects was the use of strong encryption. Apple clashed with the FBI earlier this year over access to data in an iPhone used by a gunman in the San Bernardino attack, resulting in some calling for a government backdoor in products. Also off the table was government surveillance, much of which was exposed by documents leaked in the last few years by Edward Snowden.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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