Three posts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation dispassionately recount the on-the-record policies of Trump and his advisors on issues that matter to a free, fair and open internet: net neutrality; surveillance, encryption and cybersecurity; free speech and freedom of the press.
Trump supporters often say that his objectionable policies are no worse than Obama's or Clinton's -- many of whose policies were indeed objectionable -- but as these posts irrefutably demonstrate, the Trump presidency promises incursions on basic freedoms that go beyond anything in US political history. It's why EFF says the tech industry's threat model just changed, and why the industry needs to step up to protect its users with unprecedented urgency.
During the 2016 campaign Trump made a series of statements about how he wants to expand the country’s surveillance apparatus. In late 2015, Trump said in an interview he tends “to err on the side of security” and that restoring parts of the Patriot Act that have been amended would “be fine.”
“When you have people that are beheading [you] if you’re a Christian and, frankly, for lots of other reasons, when you have the world looking at us and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible, I err on the side of security.”
Trump’s pick for CIA Director, Republican Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, has also defended the country’s sweeping surveillance program and protested any narrow restraints placed on government surveillance.
When Congress passed a series of modest surveillance reforms in the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015, many Republicans joined the bipartisan effort to protect civil liberties. But Pompeo later introduced legislation that would undo many of the changes in the USA FREEDOM Act. “To share Edward Snowden’s vision of America as the problem is to come down on the side of President Obama’s diminishing willingness to collect intelligence on jihadis,” he wrote in a 2015 op-ed.
Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions felt similarly, penning an op-ed against USA FREEDOM that said the bulk phone records collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act was “subject to extraordinary oversight” and warned the bill “would make it vastly more difficult for the NSA to stop a terrorist than it is to stop a tax cheat.”
On the domestic surveillance front, Sessions also helped to derail a bill in the Senate that would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing stored electronic communications, like emails.
Trump has also called for specific surveillance of targeted communities, including Muslims. Early in the campaign, he said he supports surveillance of mosques and that he “would certainly implement” a database for Muslim Americans.
When asked about the possibility of warrantless searches of Muslim Americans by Yahoo News, Trump said, “everybody is feeling that security is going to rule.”
“And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
Trump and His Advisors on Net Neutrality [Kerry Sheehan/EFF]
Trump and His Advisors on Surveillance, Encryption, Cybersecurity [Kate Tummarello/EFF]
Trump on Free Speech and Freedom of the Press [Jennifer Lynch/EFF]