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Apple, Google and Facebook Want More From Next POTUS

Open letter calls for trans-Pacific trade deal and tech initiatives

Trade groups representing thousands of tech companies like Google are calling on the presidential candidates to support more tech-friendly policies. (Shawn Collins/Flickr)
Trade groups representing thousands of tech companies like Google are calling on the presidential candidates to support more tech-friendly policies. (Shawn Collins/Flickr)

In an open letter to presidential candidates, 13 tech trade groups representing thousands of companies, including Silicon Valley giants Apple, Facebook and Google, outlined for the first time a technology policy agenda they’d like to see parties adopt, including backing the trans-Pacific trade deal .  

Among other things, the letter calls on candidates to “advance ambitious initiatives to reduce barriers to trade in digital and other goods and services, including obtaining the congressional authorization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.”  

The remaining presidential candidates — Donald Trump , Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — oppose the pact, saying it would take away American jobs.  

The tech firms’ recommendations also touch on issues from simplifying tax codes and protecting intellectual property to expanding trade and ensuring a skilled workforce. As technology becomes increasingly central to people’s lives and has introduced an array of intractable issues for Congress to consider, the tech groups representing a large swath of the industry offered policy ideas they say would help keep the United States a leader in innovation.  

“This election season is a reminder that the pace of change has accelerated,” the groups wrote in the letter intended to get campaigns to focus on the booming industry that the groups say “accounts for approximately 7 percent of America’s gross domestic product” and employs more than 6.7 million people in the country. “Many Americans feel unprepared for the present, let alone the future. Thus, a central challenge of our time must be leveraging our strengths to expand opportunities and better prepare more citizens for the opportunities ahead.”  

Their recommendations address issues that have been central in some ways to the presidential campaigns — including immigration and tax policy — as well as issues that have gone entirely under the radar, such as online censorship and spectrum policy for supporting wireless broadband access.  

[Related: Anecdotes, Poetry and Politics for a Tech Audience]
Even if some of the topics seem a bit wonky for the presidential arena, they are too important “to be ignored or treated like bumper sticker slogans,” Telecommunications Industry Association CEO Scott Belcher said in a statement that accompanied the release of the letter.  

“Our nation faces the prospect of falling behind our global competitors on innovation, risking the jobs and economic growth that come with that leadership. The steps we’ve outlined will make sure technology companies have the tools to compete with any company, anywhere in the world,” Belcher said.  

Several of the groups said it’s the first time so many of them have come together on a united front.  

“Our unprecedented show of unity is aimed at motivating action on the issues that matter most to our present and our future, and a sign of the tech sector’s commitment to being a part of the solution,” Information Technology Industry Council President and CEO Dean Garfield said in a statement which was also released with the letter.  

The groups that signed the letter include Allied For Startups, BSA – The Software Alliance, CompTIA, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Consumer Technology Association, ITI – The Information Technology Industry Council, the Internet Association, the Semiconductor Industry Association, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Software & Information Industry Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association, TechNet, and the Technology CEO Council.  

[Related: Capitol Hill Not Quite Silicon Valley, But It’s Trying]

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