Republican Platform Sparse on Tech, Telecom Policy Details

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By Michaela Ross

July 19 — The tech and telecommunications industries got a taste of what a Trump administration might mean for business with the Republican Party's 2016 platform.

The platform outlined support for universal broadband access and the development of the next generation of internet technology, known as 5G. Other sections included opposition to net neutrality and the transition of U.S. government oversight of certain internet protocols to a global internet community composed of businesses, civil society, governments and other users.

The document was sparse on details for specific initiatives or legislative action, and did not mention certain hot-button topics promoted by the tech sector, such as easier visa accessibility for highly skilled workers or immigrant entrepreneurs.

Industry associations continue to press Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump for a tech sector policy agenda. Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Technology Association, said while his organization applauded the promotion of an innovation-friendly business climate in the platform, it looked forward to more details.

“We’re hopeful the platform’s inclusion of these issues means we’ll soon see a detailed policy agenda from the Trump-Pence campaign, outlining its specific positions and priorities on technology and innovation,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Speaking on background, a former Republican FCC official lamented that the Trump campaign hasn't released a detailed tech agenda, saying the last three Republican nominees had by this stage of the race.

One notable shift was the party's opposition to a change in oversight of internet technical functions from the U.S. government to the global internet community. Several Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have expressed concerns the move will give governments such as Russia or China more power to control censorship and internet security (21 ECLR 954, 6/15/16). The transition has enjoyed broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

"The transition plan aligns the interests of internet users, prevents capture by any one stakeholder group or government such as China or Russia, and lays the foundation for a stable and secure internet," Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, told Bloomberg BNA in an email.

On June 28, Hillary Clinton, slated to become her party's presidential nominee at next week's Democratic National Convention, issued a detailed tech policy plan supporting the transition and calling for a new “start-up visa” for immigrant entrepreneurs as well as easier green card access for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal Holdings Inc. and Trump’s most vocal tech industry supporter, is scheduled to address the Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

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The 2016 Republican platform is available at

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