Apple's Cook, Amazon's Bezos converge on White House

Tech summit hosted by the White House Office of American Innovation tackles cybersecurity and government IT needs.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read
President Donald Trump

White House adviser Jared Kushner.

The Washington Post

Leaders of the tech industry came to DC on Monday for a series of working sessions to discuss cybersecurity, updates to the government's computer systems and future tech trends.

The meeting was hosted by the new White House Office of American Innovation, which is headed by President Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the American Technology Council.

Those in attendance included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, CBS News reported.

 A handful of reporters also attended the all-day meeting, which kicked off a week of tech-themed administration events. But the gathering wasn't livestreamed.

Kushner opened the summit by talking up the government's mammoth tech troubles. He hit on federal agencies' 6,100 costly data centers, many of which are decades old and could be "consolidated and migrated to the cloud." Some Pentagon legacy systems still rely on floppy disks, he said. "Together we will unleash the creativity of the private sector" to update government systems, he said, alluding to some of the improvements already under way.  

Bezos called on the federal government to take advantage of commercial technology, Recode reported. And Cook reportedly acknowledged that the country has much work to do to modernize and suggested Washington make coding a requirement in schools. Cook had planned to bring up a handful of issues at the event, including the needs for strong encryption to protect privacy and immigration to spur the US economy, Axios reported

Trump concluded the meetings by stressing the need for a "sweeping transformation" of the feds' technology and admitting that government had to "catch up" to the private sector, Recode said.  

The meeting came two weeks after Trump said he would pull the US out of the Paris climate accord, a move that several tech leaders criticized. That withdrawal even prompted Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, to depart from Trump advisory councils on which he was serving. Earlier in the year, a large number of tech companies and tech execs were vocal in opposition to Trump's travel ban proposal, which would have restricted entry into the US for people from a half-dozen predominantly Muslim countries.

In May, Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity directed at strengthening defenses in three areas: federal networks, critical infrastructure and the public online. Among other things, the administration is calling for the US to replace "antiquated systems" and move many of its operations to the cloud.

Trump also held a meeting with tech leaders in December, before he became president.

First published on June 19 at 8:22 a.m. PT.
Update, 4:10 p.m. PT: With follow-up reporting.

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