Washington Must Rebuild Trust With Silicon Valley to Meet Cyber Threats, Argues Segal in New Report

Cyber threats are escalating in sophistication and magnitude, but mistrust between Washington and Silicon Valley continues to stymie progress on cybersecurity. In a new Council Special Report, Adam Segal examines the security risks exacerbated by the divide between government and the technology community and offers policy recommendations to help restore trust.

January 27, 2017

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Cyber threats to the United States are escalating in sophistication and magnitude, but mistrust between Washington and Silicon Valley continues to stymie progress on cybersecurity. In a new Council Special Report, Adam Segal examines the security risks exacerbated by the divide between government and the technology community and offers policy recommendations to help restore trust.

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“In addition to rising cybersecurity threats, the [Donald J.] Trump administration will inherit a growing political divide between Washington and U.S. tech firms that stems in large part from the disclosures by NSA contractor Edward Snowden,” writes Segal, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Ira A. Lipman chair in emerging technologies and national security and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy program.

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“Although numerous government officials have traveled to Silicon Valley over the past several years, narrowing the gap will not be easy in part because technology firms operating as global platforms have strong economic motivations to keep Washington at a distance. Potential adversaries will continue to use hardware and software developed by U.S. companies and thus law enforcement and intelligence agencies will persist in exploiting the vulnerabilities in these products,” he adds.

Segal asserts that “repairing the rift will not be easy, but there are areas where the two sides can find common ground.” The report, Rebuilding Trust Between Silicon Valley and Washington, notes that the two sides can work together to:

Segal also outlines several policies the U.S. government should pursue on these issues:

If you are interested in speaking with Segal, please contact Andrew Palladino at 212.434.9888 or apalladino@cfr.org.

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