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  • Writer's pictureAsh Kakish

Technology and presidential politics

It's election season in America! There's no doubt that your Facebook feed is overwhelmed with angry (and slightly racist?) posts from distant family members. Biden and Trump are spending record amounts to convince Americans that the other side hates America and wants to destroy it.  While most of us are smart enough to know that it's sensationalist nonsense, there are some genuine issues at stake for the tech world. The next four years are going to impact the next 10. We've summarized some of the broader issues for you to consider and how recent events are playing out. We've put our best effort into giving you a neutral picture of the landscape while still stating the facts and informing you of the major opinions out there.

*In no way, shape or form are we endorsing either candidate. Make up your own mind* Regulation and De-regulation The Trump administration rolled back Obama's Net Neutrality, which preserved an open internet and prevented telecom providers from doing pretty much whatever they want. An example of this could be AT&T slowing down NBCUniversal streaming (which is owned by Comcast) but making sure HBOMax streams at fast speeds. Opponents of Net Neutrality said that it damaged infrastructure growth. The Trump administration has been heavy-handed in rolling back Obama era protections like broadband privacy rules and subsidizing funding for wireless providers in low income and rural areas (this was called the Lifeline Project). Since these regulations are made through the FCC and executive orders, most assume that a Biden presidency would restore some of Obama's regulations.  Section 230 However, de-regulation stops when it comes to social media platforms. Trump has re-interpreted Section 230 (which states that social media platforms are free from prosecution for what users post) and is looking to punish social media platforms. Trump, and most conservatives, complain that Twitter and Facebook silence conservative voices while amplifying liberal ones. The next four years would see a push for more regulation of online platforms in the same way regulation affected newspapers and magazines.  China How the next president deals with China will have a significant impact on American technology firms (and, inevitably, the rest of the world). China has emerged not only as a substantial competitor for tech development but also as a security threat. Huawei, Tiktok, and Wechat have all ended up being banned or significantly regulated by the US, India, Australia, and several other countries. US response to China, over the last three years, has been to levy tariffs (tax on goods) that come from China. The Chinese have responded by taxing American interests in the same way.  Protecting US tech interests from Chinese threats (like intellectual property theft) will be vitally important. 5G The Trump administration has promoted 5G buildout aggressively. They've pushed for spectrum auctions to free up as much of the airwaves as possible for public consumption. The US has highlighted relationships with Ericcson (Sweden) and Nokia (Finland) as the hardware and infrastructure backbone for American 5G networks and has entered into talks with Cisco to jump in.

Critics of the Trump administration have said that they haven't done enough to release the precious mid-band spectrum, which carriers consider the 5G sweet spot. The American trade war with China has hampered American 5G efforts. They've also been quick to point out the lagging availability of broadband in rural areas, which the Trump administration has done little to change and have defunded programs designed to address it.  The next administration will be responsible for making sure America doesn't fall behind the rest of the world in developing our 5G network.

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