As Donald Trump’s first full year as president comes into focus, one recurring theme of 2017 is Big Tech’s new relationship with national politics.
The shifting dynamic began before the inauguration, back on that December day when the president-elect gathered some of the most powerful leaders in tech at Trump Tower. From there, it has been a roller coaster with the tech industry issuing sharp rebukes on issues like immigration and later lauding the federal government for pushing through its overhaul of the tax code.
Those are just a few of many watershed moments for the tech industry under the Trump administration. Others include the repeal of net neutrality and the unraveling of trust in Big Tech as more evidence of technology-enabled election meddling surfaces.
GeekWire has been tracking these issues since before Trump took office and compiled highlights from our coverage here.
Continue reading for Trump & Tech in 2017, a timeline…
December 14, 2016
Before taking office, Trump sat down at Trump Tower with some of the biggest names in tech, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Details of the conversation were kept under wraps but Trump did thank investor Peter Thiel for his support and addressed a few of the tech industry’s concerns in broad strokes before shutting out the media.
January 30, 2017
One of Trump’s first moves as president was signing a controversial executive order temporarily barring people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Amid outcry from the tech industry, Washington state became the first in the nation to sue the Trump administration, with support from Seattle-area tech giants Amazon and Expedia.
February 3, 2017
A federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order to immediately halt implementation and enforcement of the travel ban nationwide. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told GeekWire declarations of support for the lawsuit from Amazon, Expedia, and Microsoft “certainly helped the case.”
February 4, 2017
Trump’s new Federal Communications Commission ended its investigation into “free data” programs from T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, an early sign of the administration’s plans to roll back net neutrality regulations.
March 6, 2017
After a series of legal defeats and growing admonition from the tech industry, Trump issued a revised immigration order temporarily blocking citizens of Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the country and removing Iraq from the list of banned nations. The new order made exemptions for visa-holders.
April 18, 2017
Trump signed a series of executive orders aimed at cracking down on abuse of the work visa program that tech companies rely on to hire talent from overseas. The legislation, titled “Buy American, Hire American,” instructed federal agencies to review immigration policies and report back with proposed changes.
May 1, 2017
In an executive order, Trump outlined plans to create an American Technology Council to help government agencies modernize their digital services with former Microsoft and General Motors CFO Chris Liddell at the helm.
June 1, 2017
Using full-page ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and New York Post, 25 companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook, urged Trump not to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. In a related TV ad, “America’s biggest CEOs,” including the leaders of JPMorgan Chase, GE, Johnson & Johnson, and Disney, made a similar case. Both ads claimed the Paris Agreement would lead to job creation and will boost the U.S. economy. Their efforts were not successful.
June 30, 2017
Trump signed an executive order to revive the National Space Council for the first time since the George H.W. Bush administration, with Vice President Mike Pence as the council’s chairman. The move was intended to pave the way for space policy changes. Trump called the move “a clear signal to the world that we are restoring America’s proud legacy of leadership in space.”
July 1, 2017
The Trump administration delayed implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which allowed foreign-born startup founders to build their companies in the U.S. provided their companies met certain benchmarks of success. The Department of Homeland Security delayed the rule from its original start date in July to March 14, 2018, with plans to rescind it. The rule was introduced by the Obama administration as a workaround for foreign entrepreneurs because there isn’t currently a good avenue for leaders from other countries to build companies in the U.S. Work visas, like the H-1B, only apply to skilled employees, not startup founders.
September 6, 2017
Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows approximately 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants, also known as Dreamers, access to temporary work permits and protection from deportation. Tech leaders publicly expressed their disappointment in the decision and Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks filed statements of support for a multi-state lawsuit seeking to halt the Trump administration’s action.
September 19, 2017
The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) sued the Trump administration, with support from startups and entrepreneurs, claiming it is illegal to delay implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule. The NVCA claims that DHS “violated clear requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act” by delaying the rule without first soliciting public comment.
November 1, 2017
Top lawyers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google testified before Congressional intelligence committees on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Lawmakers grilled representatives from each company for facilitating digital electioneering and grew particularly frustrated by the fact that those companies still couldn’t say how far-reaching Russian influence on their platforms is.
November 7, 2017
Related: Deadline 2020: Regulators need to catch up to social media propaganda by the next big election
Bots and other suspicious social media accounts were used in an apparent attempt to influence voters in a heavily funded Washington state Senate race between Democrat Manka Dhingra and Republican Jinyoung Englund. Experts told GeekWire it’s part of a broader trend of “digital propaganda,” which has also been discovered in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Dhingra still pushed ahead in the Washington race in one of several victories for Democrats on election night.
December 1, 2017
A federal judge sided with the NVCA in its lawsuit over the International Entrepreneur Rule, blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to delay implementation of the Obama-era policy. The judge ordered Homeland Security to begin accepting applications for the parole but immigration officials are still proceeding with plans to rescind the rule.
December 14, 2017
Trump’s Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal Obama-era regulations known as net neutrality. The rules were intended to ensure internet service providers wouldn’t prioritize some online content over others, preventing a company like Verizon from speeding up its own streaming video site while slowing down competitors like Netflix. In the months leading up to the vote, tech companies, politicians, and activists launched protests and online campaigns to pressure the FCC to retain the regulations.
December 20, 2017
Both houses of Congress approved a broad overhaul of the federal tax code and send the bill to Trump to sign. The tech industry is somewhat mixed on the legislation but is fairly unified when it comes to the bill’s flagship corporate tax rate cut from 35 to 21 percent. Tech industry groups and leaders issued statements of support for the bill when Congress approved it.