The State of Cyber Policy Part I:

Brandon Edwards

During President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign, many said his more extreme rhetoric was in an effort to energize his supporters. This appears to be holding true as Trump discusses policy, picks his cabinet members, and interviews with the media. In a 60 minutes interview he spoke about his stance on a couple of the issues as he prepares to take office. On gay marriage he said, “It’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.” Yet he turns to other issues that were settled by the Supreme Court and says, “if it’s ever overturned, it would go back to the states”. Are some supreme court decisions set in stone and others not? Does this mean his administration will pick and choose which court cases they want the supreme court to review or attempt to overrule?


If President-Elect Trump is malleable in his proposed plans what does this mean for his unspoken policies, specifically in regards to his tech policies?


In 2014 Trump tweeted “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media...” The Fairness Doctrine would have required FCC certified broadcasters to provide a space for voices that oppose their own. Net Neutrality is about making sure all internet service providers (ISPs) allowed equal access to all websites and application without discrimination or favor.


Trump has yet to exhibit a firm understanding on technology.  During First Presidential Debate he denounced the findings of Seventeen Agencies and said that maybe the DNC was hacked by a 400 pound hacker on his bed. During the Second Presidential Debate said “the cyber” and basically gave us a “I have no idea” answer when asked about certain technology aspects of our country.


Trump has seemingly brushed off all technology related policy. At a time where the fight for net neutrality is still in the forefront of many arguments. Attacks from hostile groups come as DDoS (Distributed Denial of services) attacks and hash password crackings with free software my mother could download; a technology fluent President would have been my first choice. The online world is evolving and directly affecting IRL. This campaign showed this more than any in our recent past. Wikileaks (an internet debate in itself) release documents they acquired about government officials adding to the political debate starting in the Primaries. Social Media sites (mainly Facebook) have become 62% of U.S. adults main source of news. The internet and by proxy, technology, have become the most impactful subject of our generation.


The usual conservative stance on net neutrality is competition leads to growth. ISPs streamline access to a specific site in a partnership that other competing sites will aim to get the slot. At the moment, President-Elect Trump’s FCC looks to be filled by ISP insiders such a Dr. Jeffrey Eisenach. Eisenach has spoken multiple times between the Senate Judiciary Committee in recent years in opposition to FCC net neutrality rules and has lobbied for Verizon in the past. If he is one of the few policy ideas we can take from the Trump Administration there will be a change in the government's current trajectory of net neutrality. A large public outcry was one of the key defenses against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) helped keep them from turning into law. Eisenach has written in his paper Economics of Zero Rating that there is no problem with competitive mobile platform access. A point heavily opposed by net neutrality advocates.


Online privacy will see changes under the Trump administration as well. Mike Pompeo (R- Kansas) is Mr. Trump’s nomination for Director of the CIA. He is very staunchly against the precedent given by Snowden that a whistleblower should come forward if they believe the government has overstepped his boundaries. Now is the time the USA should be having conversations about interaction between safety and privacy. It is well documented that Snowden’s acts lead to the deterioration of many intelligence missions around the world however, he has brought forward an important question that is often debated around the web. On what level should the American people allow their privacy to be foregone? If the top brass dismisses the acts of an individual, they should still listen to the question posed. It is feared that the appointments Trump has  made will not be willing to have this conversation. That citizens do not have a place in these conversations because they do not understand the implication involved. The famous quote in this argument being, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” While this may seem like common sense, the quote is brushing aside a conversation from even happening. Conversation and negotiation built America. Should the Intelligence Community be allowed to circumvent this conversation? In a Trump administration, his views in cyber privacy are not so public and we may not even have mention of the conversation. Americans will have no say as to how their government is protecting them. This could lead to another Snowden incident or perhaps another Wikileak leaking. Turning heads away from the difficult questions breed rash actions.  


Lastly, there is a growing primetime spotlight on hacking. Private corporations in 2014 and 2015 had great difficulty with Chinese Liberation Army hacks stealing intellectual property. The Obama administration handled these continued infractions with trade sanctions. The basic idea being, “if you play rude you will not be allowed to trade with us.” This successfully lowered the number of US aimed private sector hackings from nearly 60 a month to 5-6 in 2016.Russia has been the focus for the past couple weeks with DNC and Political email hackings. The POTUS and PEOTUS disagree with one another as to Russia’s guilt on the matter. Obama has continued sanctions on Russia in an attempt to sway further action. Trump is on record saying, “We have no idea who it is.” Both sides of the aisle have spoken about how America should “just focus on the issue of Americans being hacked. This shouldn’t be political.” However this is not the action from either party. This will be covered more in part two of our section on The State of Cyber Policy as well as a more indepth look at how Trump, “know(s) a lot about hacking.”

Trump does not have much readily available in his policies involving cyber security,  net neutrality, or anything related to technology. His speakings on anything related to “the cyber” have been vague and do not project confidence in Twenty First Century communication. His appointments to the FCC and CIA allow speculation to the Executive Branch’s policies. Computers have not “complicated lives very greatly”. The world has been running on them for decades now and it’s time all of America accepted it instead of avoiding the topic.

Brandon Edwards is a Computer Science student at University of Central Florida where his focus is Computer Security. He also enjoys building computers, his mechanical keyboards and bashing his head in on PVP focused video games. He also excels at writing aggresively average short bios. 

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