This election season in the United States has been unique for so many reasons, but the one that seems to keep lingering under the radar is the involvement of technology.
One of the key points that keeps getting raised about one major party candidate is a swath of missing emails from her privately held email server. The other major party candidate has made vague passing remarks advocating for foreign hackers to keep attacking opponents.
In the last month, a flood of hacked emails has gotten released through WikiLeaks. And, all the while, there is unrest among the states and voters about the possibility voting machines might be vulnerable to digital manipulation.
In my mind, the four candidates receiving any substantial airtime (Clinton, Trump, Johnson and Stein) have demonstrated no ability to understand the key issues that our industry is facing so far during this long, drawn-own election season. Let’s walk through a few of them now.
The first, and most obvious, is cybersecurity. How is it, with all the hacking that has taken place in this election cycle, cybersecurity is still only a minor issue?
We are facing a time where there will soon be tens of billions of connected devices on networks around the world. The goal of this new world order is to have the devices talk to one another.
The problem when billions of devices can talk to one another … is that billions of devices can talk to one another!
See More Opinion Columns on the 2016 Presidential Election:
What a Donald Trump Presidency Would Mean for Your Business
What a Hillary Clinton Presidency Would Mean for Your Business
What a Zoltan Istvan, Yes, Zoltan Istvan, Presidency Would Mean for Your Business
People don’t break into a secure facility by going through the front gate, manned by armed guards. They go around the back or tunnel underneath and look for the most vulnerable spot. With billions of devices communicating on networks around the world we are now more susceptible to network security issues than ever before.
Hackers and those seeking to do harm either through theft of information, such as identity theft or corporate espionage, are going to find the least secure device on the network (or perhaps an open VPN that someone forgot to close after it was done being used) and exploit that to gain access in seeking out substantial information.
It isn’t all about gaining access to information, though, as the recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) activity proved. By gaining access to devices like network connected cameras and DVRs, hackers were able to infect them and use them as a botnet to disrupt traffic to hundreds of websites for millions of people.
IoT, Data and Net Neutrality
As commerce has become more dependent on access to the Internet, how will it handle itself moving forward when that access is cut off for a day? A week? Longer?
We often think of cybersecurity as people trying to protect themselves, but to operate online in any capacity with the services means that you are clicking an ‘I Agree’ button somewhere, providing access to a small piece of your personal information.
These could be companies that you trust like Apple, Google, Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Pandora, etc., but the question is what are those companies doing with your information? Are they selling it without permission? (It’s possible.) Are they using it to manipulate the ad traffic being sent to you? (Probably.)
The Federal Trade Commission holds the power over what these service providers have the right to do—or not do—with your data and the permissions that are required in order take those actions.
However, there’s another element involved in that transaction between you and the service provider: your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
These are the companies that hold the keys to allowing your data to flow from your home or device to the service provider. What are they doing to protect your privacy? And what actions can they take with or without your knowledge?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting on new privacy regulations on how ISPs can treat your data very soon. They took control of that aspect of the chain when they reclassified ISPs as common carriers when the net neutrality regulations passed in 2015.
If the FTC and FCC are both protecting those rights, why does that matter to the presidential election? Because the next president will appoint the chairman, who will lead the charge of the upcoming agenda.
This is all the more important as we look at other appointments that will need to be made in the coming years – particularly on the Supreme Court.
Three of the current sitting justices are at or above the median age where justices leave the Court or die, and there remains one vacancy on the panel after the death of Antonin Scalia earlier this year.
That means that the next president could be appointing up to four judges who could preside over court cases on copyright reform, patent reform, individual and corporate privacy, security requirements for terms of service, and more. This conversation has come up just one time in the three debates, allowing us to hear from two of the potential candidates and the discussion offered little useful information to voters.
“Our country is facing a difficult choice,” sings Alexander Hamilton in the musical Hamilton. That was no less true in 1800 than it is today.
The tech sector has other concerns that we’ll be facing in this election – including immigration policy – but the fact that we have no clear indication the candidates understand our world, or how to regulate it, is further cause for me to recommend picking the candidate who you think will do the least damage, whomever you think that is.