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Takeaways from Trump's meeting with tech execs


There was a lot of happy talk after the White House kicked off its self-styled "Tech Week" on Monday with a meeting of big name tech CEOs. Here's what to make of the meeting, which featured Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook and Microsoft's Satya Nadella, among others:

  1. Tech companies still want a seat at Trump's table. Even after policy disagreements, nobody wants to risk being left out of discussions about everything from taxes to federal IT. At least on the issue of high-skilled immigration, it seems Trump has moved over to tech's side.
  2. "Tech Week" isn't the same as an actual tech policy push. In the past such listening sessions were accompanied by announcements of new private-sector commitments or administration programs. That wasn't the case Monday, though the week is just beginning.
  3. Less backlash. Remember how Uber's (otherwise embattled) chief executive ended up leaving Trump's councils because of user backlash? That doesn't seem to be happening in this case, maybe because so many prominent CEOs were there — and this isn't a formal advisory council.

But execs are well aware of the sensitivities of their employees, so they're treading carefully. (A group called Tech Solidarity did urge employees to pressure their executives into not going, but that didn't seem to break through.)

Trump brought some of his standard-issue braggadocio. From Recode's Tony Romm, one of the few reporters in the room: "At one point, he calculated the companies in attendance totaled '$3.5 trillion dollars of market value in this room,' which he said amounted to 'almost the exact number we have created since my election.'"

The White House got some of the headlines it wanted:

And some it probably didn't:

BuzzFeed News reporter Ryan Mac on the looks coming from Bezos, Cook and Nedella while Trump spoke:

Haley Britzky 16 mins ago
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DOJ eyeing tool to allow access to encrypted data on smartphones

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

The Justice Department is in "a preliminary stage" of discussions about requiring tech companies building "tools into smartphones and other devices" that would allow law enforcement investigators to access encrypted data, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This has been on the FBI's mind since 2010, and last month the White House "circulated a memo...outlining ways to think about solving the problem," officials told the Times. Both FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, support finding ways for law enforcement to access data without compromising devices security.

Haley Britzky 20 mins ago
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Media tycoon Barry Diller talks #MeToo

 IAC & Expedia, Inc. Chairman & Senior Executive Barry Diller
IAC & Expedia, Inc. Chairman & Senior Executive Barry Diller. Photo: Cindy Ord / Getty Images for Yahoo

Barry Diller, chairman of mega-media and Internet company IAC, told the New York Times he thinks "all men are guilty," when it comes to "the spectrum" of the #MeToo movement.

"I hope in the future for some form of reconciliation. Because I think all men are guilty. I’m not talking about rape and pillage. I’m not talking about Harveyesque. I’m talking about all of the spectrum. From an aggressive flirt. Or even just a flirty-flirt that has one sour note in it. Or what I think every man was guilty of, some form of omission in attitude, in his views."

Why it matters: The #MeToo movement has rocked Hollywood and the media industry. Diller told the Times he sees the effects of this "in our companies, where the relationships between people are changing."