This Republican lawmaker says tech execs should keep politics to themselves
Good morning, I'm Congressman Darrell Issa.
I've represented San Diego and Orange County now for almost 18 years.
And I'm here at the Consumer Electronic Show, a place I left when I left my business career 17 plus years ago.
And you've been coming to the show for how long now?
It's interesting cuz in the last year
The way the Congress approaches [INAUDIBLE] has changed dramatically right?
It feels like the honeymoon is over.
When you take the Russian interference concerns.
When you take all of the debate over privacy and security.
Do you think that that, like the favorite son of the government type thing is over?
You know thre's always been two problems the tech has faced, one is they've been naive aboutt he impact government could have on thier business models, and that's obviously coming to play everyday, the other one is that for a long time tech had a tendency
To be all together united for common things free trade, liberal immigration of tech workers, better education.
But know we've begun seeing various aspects of tech like you saw in net neutrality.
Where one group is pitted against another and they go to government to argue it out, that almost always means the honeymoon is over.
Because no matter what government does they're answering one side or the other side's preferences.
You've announced that you're leaving Congress, right?
I'm announcing that I-
That you're leaving your post.
At the end of the term,
I will be moving on.
Without your voice and you were a point person for Trump on tech is an issue when he was President Elect, right, and during the transition?
Losing that voice, what do you think happens?
How does tech talk to the Republican establishment in charge?
Well, decades ago we moved the Supreme Court out of the capital, and the assumption way that if they move that across the street they'll be irrelevant.
The court has only grown since it had an independent voice and an independent location.
I'm not leaving tech and I'm not leaving being a voice.
As long as the President and people advising him still listen to my view on H-1B reform, or on quite frankly on feeding tech's demand to do here what we want to do here, versus exporting opportunities.
I'll be there, and I'm gonna continue, I'm not selling my house in Washington, I'm not gonna be a lobbyist, but I'm certainly going to be an advocate for the things I believe in.
This last year, one of the other thing that's been going on [UNKNOWN] Trump, which, a lot of the conversation is that we've seen the tech executives coming out against him in many different ways when it came to the travel ban
When it came to transgender rights, right?
We kept a list on CNET of everyone.
And at times, they've criticized him.
I appreciate that liberals will never like Trump.
And no, hear me out.
Look, this is about liberals not liking Trump.
The travel ban had so little to do with tech.
They were people, especially the second one.
People who were not coming to accept jobs at Apple, they were not part of it.
You're not having that challenge.
But having said that, those politics are never gonna change.
I've never gotten a check from Apple supporting me and yet I've been one of their champions on issues And that's okay.
Your politics and your policies don't have to always match.
So is free trade important to the tech community?
Is the Democratic Party a protectionist party?
Is tech unionized?
Is Democratic Party the party of unions?
So you have all those issues in which people's politics and policies don't match, and I think it's important to understand that it shouldn't be about politics when it's about the best interest in the American people.
You should be able to pick a party for whatever reason you want, and pick policies, if you will, a la carte.
So in this case, this administration may never be the choice of the executives of high tech, but it can in fact be good for the tech community, good for employment.
Now, this President probably appreciates more the building of hotels, and over technology they fully understand What goes out in Silicon Valley or what goes on in the biotech areas of San Francisco and San Diego.
And yet the policies can be consistently good for those industries.
And I think that's where somebody in my position, who perhaps agrees with the President on some things, not on others, Can bring the alignment of the policies that are good for the United States.
I would certainly say that tech leaders who are officers of public companies, are really ill advised to make those statements, because those statements quite frankly are required to be in the best interest of their stockholders, and often they're not.
Net neutrality we saw the vote happen, there's been a lot of back lash specifically from this area of the world when it comes to the tech stuff.
So where are you kind of feeling at this point now that we see this debate happening again, and again.
Obviously you have a view and it's bias
Because you just said that there's a backlash.
Well, there's not just a backlash, there's also a relieve rally.
The changing of the control and the managing of, if you will, access of bandwidth was in fact one side lobbying for a benefit to them as they saw it.
The reality is that I do video conferences every day over the Internet.
I use exclusively voice over IP.
And you'd better believe I want a prioritization, and net neutrality implies that you won't give me a prioritization for those over other traffic.
In a typical home on your Apple iPad decides that he wants to upload to back up your iPad, guess what?
Your VoIP doesn't work right unless you have a prioritization, it should be a smart switch that's able to differentiate that traffic.
I think there is a difference between quality of service controls and net neutrality though.
Well, you say there is, but the reality is the FCC said, we will determine all of that, we will.
Rather than unfair competition rules will determine it.
For decades we have had the Federal Trade Commission have the ability to look at both monopolistic behavior per se And unfair trade practices and intervene.
If there needs to be more of that, I'm all for it.
But the idea that you would move something that is vaguely communication to the FCC, was a power grab by one chairman, and so I'm absolutely on the other side of it.
And I think in the long run The companies, and I'm considered a friend by virtually all of them.
In the long run, they're gonna find that enforcement of unfair competition is much more interesting way to protect themselves.
And by the way, it's not a new issue.
During the classic question of
I'm the outdoor channel, but I'm going through a cable company that has a in house competitor and they treat me unfairly.
Those issues have been issues that Congress has looked at, and the FTC has an obligation to look at for a long time.
And stronger enforcement, maybe.
Which is throwing it upside down, because it's slightly different than the past.
Was a mistake, I'm glad it's rolled back.
But now the question is, will we get the Federal Trade Commission to step up at the plate and be aggressive on every, if you will, viewed Slight that may occur, so that there's a fair investigation and when appropriate, action.
I think that's definitely something a lot of people agree with.
And to be clear, my point of view, we're talking about surveys that show overwhelming Overwhelmingly, Americans were against that move.
It's not about me-
[LAUGH] I don't want to be called biased when it's literally surveys out there saying a vast majority of people are against it.
You know what?
That's a backlash.
If you're asking somebody if they're pro choice, they say, well, everyone's pro choice.
If you ask somebody if they're, in the abstract, if you ask them if they're for net neutrality, you've already gamed it.
If you ask are you for the government determining what priorities are, bandwidth, who can or cannot get an advantage?
Whether or not I can get a low cost low bandwidth while somebody else pays more to get more?
That I pay a premium to get a shorter latency time, will somebody else Says I'm not as worried about that and I'd like the discount.
If you ask them if they want those choices of plans and different economics to go with it.
They're gonna say yes.
Yes, net neutrality sounds great but if you actually break it up and say would you like to have choice.
To be able to, if you will, get a lower cost for a lower service, or a higher cost so that you can get a preferred service that gives you something better, people are always gonna say, of course I want that.
Yeah, and I think, just to challenge that a little bit, the surveys often actually split up that neutrality versus what is was described as.
And we can debate what it's described as.
But that was when those things changed, and people were overwhelmingly supportive of not pulling it back.
So I'm curious then, I imagine i know the answer already, but the calls for Congress to cement this, so that we don't end up back and forth, and back and forth.
And Congress makes a decision that it votes on, and it's over.
You're not in favor of that?
I'm not, and I'll tell you why.
These institutions need to be overseen.
They need to do their job, and there needs to be if you will not a guarantee that it's their job whether they do it right or wrong.
The Federal Trade Commission has tried to get itself for example into every time somebody gets hacked.
They decide that they're going to go in and essentially tell them for 20 years how to run their businesses.
That practice is probably outside of the unfair competition portion.
They have habitually victimized victims, sometimes falsely.
My old committee investigated it and found that there was excess there.
But there were times when Uber didn't tell people for a year that it had been hacked and then you have people whose information is out on the Internet and they don't know anything and the government's not stepping in to do anything about that.
Well, there's a good example where first of all, there are civil remedies.
And those are being pursued.
For an amount greater than Uber's capital worth.
We'll see how that plays out.
Yeah, so well but the laws are in place to make people whole at least up to the worth of the company.
But the Federal Trade Commission is not about finding people when they fail to disclose They've gone after people who were in fact had active break ins, mechanical break ins and they were simply victims.
So it's important when you look at the government who is, by the way, not told you when they've been hacked, not told you accurately that My social security, my medical records are out there with somebody.
So you know, one of the challenges there is we can all say we should have but the question is, when should Congress write a law?
How stringent should the law be?
And, in fact, will it accomplish anything?
To reduce the amount of times in which people's personal information is made public or stolen.
So it's interesting, because the CIA disclosure was a big discussion this year, right?
They had the vulnerabilities that were released on the Web.
A lot of companies had to scramble to fix that.
So, on some level, it creates a question of It's okay for them to try and figure out, get into terrorists' phones and whatever.
But once they find them and they hold onto them and it's something that gets released, we're all in danger.
It's a dangerous world out there.
If the CIA doesn't do its job, people will kill us.
People will bomb our embassies.
People will attack Americans.
So that's just a reality that we know exists today, and so there's a balancing act.
Of course there is, yes.
But there's no balancing act on the Constitution.
It reads as it reads, and it has to be respected as it is.
And until three quarters of the states In addition to a su[er majority of the Congress changes that our jo is to stick to it, and particularly on the fourth amendment which is what we've been debating.
We've got gun show coming up in a few weeks hre too, half the size, less than have the size
It's the small arms industry.
So, the interesting thing, like, I have many friends in the military.
I've spent my time on a gun range.
But what's curious is that smart guns, technology that could potentially help save officers' lives and protect other peoples' lives.
We don't see much of that here.
We saw one gun last year.
We obviously have a very, this location has special significance, considering the last few months.
So, how do you deal with this?
Well, we can have all those discussions any time you want.
The question I'll get back to you is When are police going to only carry smart guns themselves?
Because the greatest single hazard to a policeman, whether we like it or not, is his own firearm.
That's my point.
The smart Gun could protect-
And so when we look at smart guns before we start saying they have to everywhere,
The very expensive weapons that we're willing to buy for law enforcement should in fact be officer specific as soon as possible.
The technology is maturing and I would hope that we would see that.
You know the same is beginning to happen in military development.
Not necessarily in a pistol But in the larger weapons being inherently more secure after the loss of so much weaponry that the Iraqi has had, our ability to have to fight against our own equipment has taught us that there is a need to be able to neutralize.
I think a lot of people agree with you and so I guess the question is why hasn't the tech industry stepped up?
Why haven't you written a purchase order?
Well, I'm not the military, but.
There's a police force in San Francisco, have they written a purchase order?
I can't speak to it, but-
You live in San Francisco?
Well, then I suggest you lobby your police force, because they'd be the first in the country.
You could do a whole question of if the technology exists, why wouldn't the San Francisco Police Department be the first in the nation?
This is an industry that will show you what is possible, and will supply you what you're willing to buy.
And so I'm not gonna be at that show coming up But I'm sure that each of those manufacturers will tell you the same thing.
You give me a purchase order, I'll deliver your product.
Thanks a lot.
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