What Donald Trump’s Election Could Mean for Privacy and the Internet
Since our founding in 2009, Golden Frog has been fighting for a private and secure, free and open Internet experience for users around the world. With the election of Donald Trump as the next United States President, questions arise around what Internet and privacy policies will be implemented when he takes office. While we don’t yet know what policy will be put into place, it’s possible to gain insight into Trump’s stances by looking at some comments he’s made in the past. As some technology companies and industry groups including Access Now and Fight for the Future have noted, Trump’s policies could have the potential to threaten a free and open Internet and consumer privacy – the rights Golden Frog fights so hard to protect. Below, we’ve taken a look at some key issues and how policies may shift when the new president takes office.
Trump has repeatedly called for governmental surveillance, in order to aid in crime-fighting efforts and to fight terrorism. He has specifically mentioned surveilling people – immigrants, minorities and those in disagreement with policy: “I want surveillance of these people, I want surveillance if we have to, and I don’t care.” He has also proposed reauthorizing the Patriot Act and expansive NSA metadata collection and surveillance programs that occurred under previous legislation.
Overall, Trump’s stance is to prioritize national security, even if that comes at the expense of privacy (which it often does). As mentioned above, he has advocated for surveillance in the past.
Trump has stated that he is opposed to net neutrality, or open Internet, principles. Open Internet policy classifies the Internet as a utility, and prohibits “fast lanes” and other ISP-generated practices such as slowing traffic and charging more for specific services. Trump notoriously tweeted in 2014: “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab.” It’s likely Trump will either change or completely repeal the FCC’s net neutrality rules put into place in 2015. If existing open Internet principles are reversed, it would also strip away consumer privacy protections recently passed by the FCC, which require providers to seek consent from users before collecting and selling data.
During the Apple v. FBI debate least year, Trump was vocal about his support for backdoor encryption, calling for Apple to “unlock” the iPhone and provide access to the FBI: “To think that Apple won’t allow us to get into her cellphone? Who do they think they are?” he said during an interview. Based upon these remarks, it seems likely he will advocate for technology companies to build backdoors into encrypted technologies so law enforcement can access data to aid in investigations.
Trump has alluded to shutting down portions of the Internet or “closing it up,” which would threaten Internet freedom. Additionally, he has called to “open up” libel laws making it possible to sue news outlets. A practice like this could threaten free speech, and be akin to Internet censorship (and the resulting self-censorship) we see in other regions of the world.
While there’s still uncertainty at this time, we will continue to monitor Trump’s plans for Internet and privacy policies as they are formulated in the coming weeks, as well as his selection of a technology advisor. As with any transition in leadership, it’s likely changes are on the horizon that will have sweeping effects for Internet users not only in the United States but around the world. Regardless of what’s next, Golden Frog will continue to stand by our founding principles and fight for a private, free and open Internet experience for Internet users everywhere.