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Leadership / Digital Transformation

Google and Facebook lobby Trump for “open internet”

A consortium of internet companies including Facebook and Google has addressed President-elect Donald Trump asking him to support the freedom and growth of the internet, while lobbying for better trade agreements and laxer regulation.

The Internet Association, which also includes Uber and Amazon, congratulated Trump on his victory and laid out a set of policy proposals that it claims would allow innovation on the internet to thrive.

The proposals cover areas including lowering tax on profits from intellectual property and protecting fair use in online copyright law.

The coalition also asked for strong encryption and the privacy of citizens to be protected.

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trump-5In a request that might capitalise on Trump’s platform of protectionism, embodied in his pledge to bring jobs back to the US, the letter asked for Trump to take a strong hand in negotiations over data flows. The signatories argued that “the rules governing flows of digital goods, services, and data are often uncertain or antagonistic toward U.S. internet services.”

There were also demands for the sharing economy, including companies such as Uber, to be free of “burdensome” regulation.

Net neutrality was also addressed in the letter, with the signatories saying that this was essential to a “free and open internet.”

“From its inception, the internet was built on an open architecture that lowers entry barriers, fosters innovation, and empowers choice,” the letter said. “The internet represents the best of American innovation, freedom and ingenuity.”

“The internet now provides individuals and small businesses with instant access to company information, product reviews, price comparisons, and free marketing tools. With these benefits come a commitment from the internet industry to provide innovative products and services while maintaining privacy and safety online.

“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.”

The letter to Trump represents a change in tone from Silicon Valley, with many Silicon Valley figures signing a scathing open letter on 14 July that said Trump would be a disaster for innovation.

“His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy – and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth,” the letter said.
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