What Does a Trump Presidency Mean for Tech?

The eight-year bromance between Barack Obama — who appointed the first chief technology officer for the US — and the tech industry is ending. Now what?

That’s the question the tech industry has been asking since a real-estate mogul turned reality star, with a spotty reputation with tech, was voted in as 45th president of the United States.

President Obama, a self-proclaimed geek and Trekkie, was the most tech-focused president in modern history, committing billions of dollars to support initiatives to spur tech innovation, improve education and encourage exploration and discovery. Unlike Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump said very little during the campaign about where he stands on most tech-related issues — though he did call for a boycott of Apple products over the company’s stance on privacy in its fight with the FBI

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One thing is clear. Silicon Valley in general isn’t excited about the next four years. In July, 150 tech leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Vint Cerf, considered the “father of the Internet,” wrote an open letter calling a Trump presidency “a disaster for innovation.” Some in the industry, notably broadband service providers, criticized him for policies they believe would stifle investment in infrastructure.

The outlook is “beyond grim,” weighted down by fear that the industry and world would suffer from this election, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Ouch.

Since Trump, 70, didn’t say all that much about tech during the campaign (he did call out “the cyber” when talking about cybersecurity concerns during one debate), industry watchers are left reading whatever tea leaves they can find until the president-elect reveals more-definitive policies.

Given that the tech industry accounts for 12 percent of all jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and given Trump’s message about improving America’s economy and competitiveness, his technology policies will have a long-lasting impact.

“The onus is on him to convince us that what we have seen in the past, the erratic behavior that has been defining character of the campaign, is not what will lead policy and that we’ll see a more pragmatic approach,” said Evan Swarztrauber, communications director for the DC-based think tank TechFreedom.

Here’s what little we do know about Trump’s stand on some important tech issues.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality became a relatively big deal in the 2008 election, but little was said during this election cycle about last year’s policy.

Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. This means your broadband provider, which controls your access to the internet, can’t block or slow down the services or applications you use over the web.

That said, we do know Trump isn’t a fan of the FCC’s current regulations. In 2014, at the height of the debate to rewrite the rules around Net neutrality, he tweeted, “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.”

It’s possible that an FCC led by Republicans could eliminate all or part of the rules and strip the FCC of some of its authority. If that happens, broadband providers could create so-called fast lanes and charge internet companies, like Netflix, different rates to deliver their services.

Loosening regulations around telecom will likely benefit broadband and wireless carriers. The NCTA, the Internet and Television Association, which lobbies for the cable industry, said it’s eager to work with President-elect Trump.

“We look forward to participating in a constructive and robust discussion about policies that will continue to make America a global technology and entertainment leader,” they said in a statement Wednesday.

Industry Consolidation and Broadband

Trump also seems to have taken a populist view against mergers and acquisitions. That could spell trouble for big pending mergers, including AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of entertainment giant Time Warner. When that deal was announced last month, Trump vowed to block the merger if he was elected.

“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said.

AT&T’s executives still like their chances of getting the deal approved by the US, pointing to statements Trump made in his victory speech about investing in “infrastructure.”

“His policies and his discussions about infrastructure investment, economic development and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T’s goals,” Chief Financial Officer John J. Stephens said Wednesday. “We’ve been the leading investor in this country for more than five years running, and our Time Warner transaction is all about innovation and economic development, consumer choice, and investment in infrastructure with regard to providing a great 5G mobile broadband experience.”

Encryption and Cybersecurity

The president-elect has made only vague statements about privacy and security, and downplayed Russia’s alleged hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign email servers. Still, when the Justice Department tussled with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of the terrorist suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, he called for a boycott of Apple products.

What he has said about cyber security is that there should be a review of US cyber defenses by a “Cyber Review Team.” He also told the The New York Times in July that “certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process… Inconceivable the power of cyber… you can make countries nonfunctioning with a strong use of cyber.”

RELATED: The Union Built Cloud Secure Data Storage Solution

Tax Policy

The biggest boost to the tech industry could come from Trump’s plans to lower corporate tax rates to encourage companies to invest their money in the US.

There’s a good chance that money could be invested in the US, said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). But it’s not a given. In 2004, the US allowed American companies to bring in the profit they’d earned overseas in the hope they would hire more workers. Most of the money went to executives and shareholders, instead.

Trump has also called for high import taxes on products, which could drive up prices for consumers on tech goods. In January, Trump said in a stump speech, “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.”

Apple, which declined to comment on Trump’s statements at the time, designs its products at its Silicon Valley headquarters, but uses a Chinese contractor to build them. If Apple products were manufactured in the US, the price of an iPhone could rise to as much as $900 to offset worker wages versus the $650 cost of an iPhone today.

YOUR TURN

How do you think Trump will affect YOUR industry? Sound off in Comments, on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Union Strong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
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Additional Reporting by CNET

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Why Do You Need Cloud Storage?

Many people have heard about cloud storage but they don’t really know what it is and how they can use it. Not everybody has a background in IT that’s why it is completely understandable why the notion of sending your files to some cloud storage company is a bit daunting. However, using cloud storage has a lot advantages that you just cannot replicate with an external hard drive, for example.

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Let’s have a look at what you can do with cloud storage and why you might need it:

1. Cloud storage frees you from external hard drives

One of the best things about storing your data in the cloud is that it is accessible anywhere you go and where you have an internet connection (even in most developing countries that’s not a problem anymore). There is no need to carry and external hard drive around with you that a) could be stolen, b) could be lost or c) could break in any manner possible. With cloud storage getting your files is as easy as opening a web browser.

2. Sync your files across multiple devices

The best cloud storage solutions allow you to synchronize your files across your laptop, desktop and mobile device. What does syncing mean? Well, say you work on an important document at the office but you cannot finish it on time. If you save that presentation in your cloud storage folder it will be copied automatically to your mobile device and laptop so that you can finish it while commuting or at home.

3. Share & Collaborate

If you’re using a cloud storage solution for your files you can easily share files with your friends, family and colleagues. Just think about this: you’re on vacation with your children and spouse and you want to show your mother your beach house. Of course, you could upload your photos to Facebook but what if your parents don’t use Facebook? Just send them an email to a folder of your cloud storage solution and they can open it right away. Forget large email attachments that never arrive!

If you’re working remotely you can use those shared folders to collaborate with your team mates. Some solutions even allow to give special access rights to those folders.

4. Save cost

In many cases you can save quite a few bucks if you sign up for a cloud storage solution. Most of the time you will end up paying less than with external hard drives – also, your files are automatically backed up – not so on your external hard drive.

Automatic back-up of files recently became critical for one of our clients; JATC Union Local 351. They had experienced a ransomware attack that blocked their access to all files. With a cloud storage solution in place we were able to recover all files that were automatically backed up prior to the attack.

RELATED: How Union Built PC Resolved the Cyber Terrorism Strike Against JATC Union Local 351

5. Security

Many people are afraid about their files not being private. And rightfully so. Cyber Crime is on the rise and nobody is immune. In fact; 99% of computer users are vulnerable to cyber attacks simply as a result of everyday-software installed on your device(s).

RELATED: Protect Your Sensitive Data from Cyber Criminals with the Union Built Cloud

Now one could argue if you don’t have anything to hide it doesn’t matter – but again, we are not just talking about celebrities and the possible hacking of their private photos. We are talking about the vulnerability of your sensitive data, your social security number, banking and credit card information, passwords and more. Luckily, many cloud storage solutions have proper file encryption technology in place to protect your files from Cyber Criminals and third parties such as the NSA.

FREE eBOOK: The Growing Threat of Ransomware and How to Stay Safe

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Download the Union Built Cloud Brochure, Cloud Storage Solutions for Union Members and Offices.

How to Make Union Meetings Interesting and Useful

Membership meetings are not simply places for members to get information and cast votes. Meetings should give members a sense of power by bringing them together. They can see and feel that they are not alone, that others have similar problems, and that others have found solutions. Meetings should give members the opportunity to observe leaders and potential leaders in action. They can learn from each other, combine ideas, and build something bigger.

If this doesn’t sound like a union meeting you’ve ever been to, it’s because many locals are unknowingly stuck in traditions that almost guarantee that a first-time attendee will not come back, and only the most faithful will persevere.

Although many officers fret about low attendance levels, it is not necessary for democracy that all or most members attend membership meetings. Except at contract time and for other special events, most locals will see only a relatively small, dedicated minority at monthly meetings. Meetings, especially on a regular basis, are not for everyone.

But union meetings can be the chief organizing vehicle for that portion of the membership that takes union work most seriously – the activists. Coming to the monthly meeting is often one of the first things that a member tries when he’s seeking to be more involved. It’s important not to turn them off!

That means that the success of a meeting is not measured simply by the number attending, but by how that meeting contributes to the control, involvement, activism, and self-confidence of all the members, both those present and those not. What “comes out of” the meeting—the plans made, assignments taken, feedback received—are more important than the meeting itself.

union-meetingPerk Up The Agenda

To improve meetings and boost attendance, start by doing away with the standard meeting announcement that sets out the same uninformative agenda month after month:

  • President’s Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Old Business
  • New Business
  • Adjourn (wake up)

Tell members instead what will actually come up at the meeting. Make sure they know how to propose agenda points covering their concerns. Distribute proposed motions in advance.

Put important and controversial items on the agenda. Discuss issues that will directly affect work situations. Have votes on policy questions where the vote really makes a difference.

Get rid of the boring reports. Print them out and distribute them in advance. Do them in multiple languages if appropriate, so members can come to meetings prepared.

Once we get over thinking that every member should attend regularly, then we can specialize some meetings. Plan each meeting to focus on a different section of the membership. Invite a few of those members to make a presentation on specific problems they’re facing.

Advertise that the January meeting, for example, will take up the question of repetitive strain injuries in the wrapping department, and recruit shop floor leaders and RSI victims to give presentations. February will focus on the problem of a particular supervisor in inspection. Treated this way, soon members will be clamoring to get their points on the agenda.

Another possibility is to move the location of the meetings around to make them more convenient to different segments of the membership.

Get People Talking

Use some imagination. Bring in outside speakers for brief talks and discussion. Use video clips. Give people—especially volunteers—recognition for what they have accomplished for the union.

Break down into small groups on occasion to get more people participating. Have members do skits or role-playing to deal with challenges facing the union.

For example, management wants to bring in summer temporaries. Some members are pleased because their kids can get the jobs; others want to make management stick to the contractual hiring procedures. Most of the people at the meeting, because they think about the contract more than other members do, are in the latter camp.

Rather than just discussing how to make management toe the line, get two members to come up front, play the roles of union members with different viewpoints, and argue it out. Use the insights gained to plan a strategy.

Always have a point on the agenda called “members’ concerns,” where anyone can raise a problem or question without necessarily making a motion. In this portion the officers listen, make notes, and after the meeting see that some action or investigation begins. Not only do they report back to the person who has brought the concern, they also report back to the next union meeting.

Be Welcoming

Make sure several people are assigned to help any new members or first-timers understand the meeting procedures and help them accomplish what they came to the meeting for. Sit with them and explain what is going on. If a person uses procedure incorrectly, figure out his intent and help him through it.

The chairperson should go out of her way to make the newcomers comfortable, give them recognition when possible, and draw them further into participation.

Invite spouses to the meetings as full participants (except for voting). Have good quality childcare so that the kids look forward to the meeting as well as the adults.

One technique we do not recommend is door prizes or lottery tickets to boost meeting attendance. It cheapens the purpose of the meeting and stresses seeing things in terms of “what’s in it for me individually” rather than coming together to help all of us.

On the other hand, Teamsters Local 174 in Seattle used a financial incentive to break the ice with new part-time UPS workers. Those who came to an introductory meeting were refunded their initiation fee. Union leaders thought the one-time appeal to self-interest was worth it, to make sure some of these young, high-turnover workers learned firsthand about the local’s philosophy and how to get to the union hall.

Don’t Stop Here…

At the end of the meeting it is sometimes useful to have a brief point on evaluation—what could be improved? Keep the meetings short so they don’t dribble to a close as people drift out; leave time for informal discussion and socializing afterward.

Remember that the meeting is only one piece of the union’s life; most members relate to the union outside of meetings. If the union meeting in essence consists of the various levels of leaders—elected people and rank and file activists—then the next job is to figure out how to provide two-way information between the leaders who come to meetings and the bulk of the members in the workplace. A strong and democratic union exists primarily as a force in the workplace, not at the union hall.

That’s why every meeting should be an action meeting that leads to some other activity. Members and leaders should take assignments at the meeting, and these should be summed up at the end: “The president will check into x and report back to y body. John has volunteered to help the education committee put out a leaflet on xyz problem by x date. Everyone here in the abc department will take the group grievances and get them signed.”

Assignments should lead the work of the union back into the workplace where more members can be involved, not just to the next union meeting or committee meeting.

YOUR TURN

How do you accomplish a sense of togetherness at your Union meetings? As a member? As a leader?  Sound off in Comments, on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

Know Your Rights: State Laws on Employee Time Off to Vote

Federal law does not require that employers allow their workers time off to vote, but the majority of states have at least some level of protection for employees who want to leave work to engage in their civic duty. The specifics vary by state, but in each state, the rules apply to almost every type of workplace. Employers are required to know the laws and to provide adequate accommodations according to the rules of that state. Though many states allow employees to have up to three hours off during the time the polls are open (the number of hours varies by state), nearly all of the states allow employers to refuse time off to vote.

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Check this resource compiled by the AFL-CIO for a table of each state and their respective laws surrounding employee time off to vote.  

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Protecting Your ID When You’re Always Connected

With more and more of our time spent connected to smart devices, security is always an important factor to consider whether you’re working on files that live in the cloud, filing photos, or trying to get to the next level of your favorite online game. Your smartphone or tablet could be a target for a savvy hacker looking to capture your information. When you use a smartphone for all the convenience it can deliver (including mobile banking, document signing and sharing, and staying social), what steps should you think about to help ensure your security?

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Using Apps Safely

As you look for applications to add into your smartphone, make sure you’re taking the legitimacy of apps into account before clicking ‘download.’ You can do this by reading reviews of apps that are unfamiliar to you so you’re in the know on issues that other users have experienced. Make sure, too, that you know and can confirm that the developer source is a reputable one. The good news for you is that app stores now have rigorous screening procedures to vet submissions, so they’re on the lookout to make sure your store shopping experience is safer and more intelligent than in earlier days.

Protecting Yourself Beyond Apps

Apps are a major window into device access, but hackers have commonly resorted to other increasingly sophisticated tactics to get into your information by email, too. Commonly known as phishing, these look-alike attempts to scam you out of your personal information by resembling communications that you do (or might reasonably do) business with. Commonly requested information: your Social Security number, account information, and passwords. As a reminder of something you probably are already familiar with, never give these out in email: reputable companies won’t ever ask for you to supply this information by email.

When it comes to taking your information with you on the go, mobile devices are unbeatable for convenience, portability, and staying connected. Just make sure that you’re keeping security in mind when you set up accounts, consider new apps, or access your information from another new place.

RELATED: Protect Your Sensitive Data from Cyber Criminals with the Union Built Cloud

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

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