Execs representing the biggest tech companies in America are gathering for a meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow in New York; these companies have it in their power to spy on us, locate us, censor us, and terminally compromise the free and open internet.
Cindy Cohn and Karen Gullo from the Electronic Frontier Foundation have set out five principles that tech leaders need to stand firm on, to defend their users from overbroad surveillance, racist profiling, monopolistic practices, and opacity in governance and network management: encryption (no back doors); mass surveillance (no warrantless spying); free speech (protect criticism of the government); net neutrality; and protecting user information (don't become the technological enabler of racial profiling and mass deportations).
Finally, Trump has also talked about creating a database of some or all Muslims. He says he plans to round up and deport millions of illegal immigrants. Both of these will likely involve combing through databases of information about Americans that have been compiled for other purposes.
If the Trump administration moves ahead with these plans, it will need Silicon Valley’s cooperation. Tech companies may face unprecedented demands to build such databases, or to search for, analyze, and hand over private data of and about their users. These companies hold our private conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more. All of this is vulnerable to misuse by a hostile administration. Tech companies must tell Trump that they won’t cooperate in building, or providing user information for, systems that enable discrimination, intolerance, or ethnic targeting forbidden by the Constitution.
Many technology companies have already taken stands against previous government demands for user data, pushed for more transparency, and some have even gone to court to challenge law enforcement efforts to access customer data without a warrant or to fight gag orders. We've recommended that companies implement strategies to gather and store as little data as possible about their users so that when the government comes knocking, there’s nothing to give.
[Cindy Cohn and Karen Gullo/EFF]