By David McCabe
May 5, 2016
Trade groups that represent some of America’s most powerful tech companies are pushing the presidential candidates to pay attention to a slate of issues that matter to them, including limiting government access, user data and adopting trade deals.
Thirteen trade groups signed an open letter released Wednesday night drawing attention to their list of issues. The groups represent giants such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon — as well as other, lesser-known companies.
“As representatives of America’s most innovative sector, we believe firmly that our greatest breakthroughs lie ahead," the groups said. “We respectfully propose the following policy recommendations, and offer our time, energy, and creativity in support of America’s future.”
Their policy recommendations reflect the wide-ranging priorities of internet and technology companies.
Among other proposals, the groups are advocating for policies that increase the flow of skilled immigrants into the country, encourage the growth of the on-demand economy and “narrowly target government access to user data, while ensuring law enforcement and other agencies have the appropriate information needed to protect our safety and security.”
Some of their positions, like supporting science, technology, engineering and math education and encouraging access to wireless spectrum, are relatively noncontroversial.
However, at least one of their positions — on trade — puts them at odds with all three remaining presidential candidates: presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
The groups said in the letter that the candidates should 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.”
Sanders has called the trade deal “disastrous,” while Trump has blasted the deal on the campaign trail. The TPP is currently stalled in Congress.
“It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble,” Trump said at a November debate. “It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.”
Clinton said last October that she was "worried" about provisions in the deal.
The group's advocacy for high-skilled immigration also runs counter to some of Trump's statements on immigration programs for skilled foreign workers, though he has said he is moving away from the hard-line stance his campaign took early in the race. He still, however, has taken an aggressive stance on immigration overall.
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