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No Policy Talk From Team Trump At Meeting With Tech Giants

During a closed door session with a broad range of trade groups, the presidential transition team for Donald Trump spoke mostly about operations, not the future of tech.

Posted on October 7, 2016, at 4:58 p.m. ET

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If you're eager for a policy agenda outlining Donald Trump's vision for American technology, you'll have to keep waiting.

Trump's presidential transition team met with dozens of tech, telecom, and media representatives Friday, but according to several people familiar with the meeting, team Trump offered little insight into the Republican Presidential candidate's view on tech policy. The transition team instead outlined planning priorities for the first days of a Trump administration, selecting presidential appointments, and soliciting donations.

Representatives from Google, Uber, and Twitter attended the meeting. They were joined by trade and advocacy groups including the Consumer Technology Association, the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association. About 50 people attended the off-the-record meeting, which took place at the offices of the law firm Baker Hostetler, in Washington, DC. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and AT&T were also represented.

Tech groups were asked to name regulations they'd like to see abolished under a Trump presidency.

Sources familiar with the gathering said the Trump transition team referred attendees to the Trump campaign website for details on policy priorities. They noted as well that tech groups were asked to recommend agency appointments, and to name regulations they'd like to see abolished under a Trump presidency.

The tech companies and groups were given a chance to share their own policy priorities, which focused around international trade, STEM education, Federal IT, as well as surveillance and privacy.

Trump’s transition team was represented by executive director Rich Bragger and general counsel Bill Palatucci. While the chair of the transition operation Gov. Chris Christie was billed to attend, his campaign schedule with Trump in New Hampshire kept him away, according an invitation obtained by BuzzFeed News. Ado Machida, the head of policy implementation, and Cam Henderson, the finance director, were there as well.

Many of the same organizations in attendance were involved in private sessions with the RNC earlier this year, leading up the party’s convention in July. The GOP platform calls for expanding broadband access across the country, support for so called “on-demand” platforms like Uber and Airbnb, and Congressional leadership on the controversy surrounding government access to encrypted communication.

Several trade and advocacy groups have called on the Trump campaign to release a detailed tech policy agenda. Hillary Clinton unveiled her technology plan this summer, which includes a proposal to connect every American household to high speed internet by 2020.

While Trump has campaigned largely on his business acumen, an influential group of Silicon Valley leaders has openly criticized him, voicing their opposition to his campaign. This summer, nearly 150 executives, engineers, researchers, and investors, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Vint “father of the internet” Cerf, and the CEOs of Slack, Box, Yelp, and Tumblr said “Trump would be a disaster for innovation.” In dramatic fashion, Trump himself has antagonized the chief executives of Apple and Amazon as well, and has appeared to take positions on net neutrality, encryption, and internet censorship that clash with widely held views among technologists.

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