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How Silicon Valley and Washington Can Be Friends Again

Authors: Alexandre Grigsby, Assistant Director, Digital and Cyberspace Policy, and Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
February 3, 2017


Edward Snowden changed everything. It’s a common refrain heard in the halls of power of Washington DC and office parks of Silicon Valley. A once mutually beneficial relationship between both coasts came to a screeching halt after Snowden revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies were actively looking to undermine the security of some of Silicon Valley’s offerings.

Time has not healed the wound. Over the course of the next four years, President Donald Trump’s administration will likely have to contend with Russian influence operations, Chinese cyber espionage, Iranian subterfuge, fights over appropriate use of encryption, data localization, and attracting technical talent to protect U.S. networks. Successfully meeting these challenges will require policy changes and deft maneuvering.

Most importantly, it will require that the Trump administration bridge the divide between Silicon Valley and Washington. As Trump prepares to meet with major business CEOs—including from Uber and IBM—on Friday, he’ll face a tech community increasingly disturbed by his decisions since taking office, such as an executive orders denying entry to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and directing the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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