Tech leaders sound the alarm over the global trust deficit with U.S. firms

Tech leaders gathered in Palo Alto High School’s gymnasium to sound the alarm over measures being taken by foreign governments in response to disclosures of U.S. surveillance.

The global response to the disclosures has not blown over but only appears to be picking up steam, said Google’s Eric Schmidt.

His comments were part of a discussion with tech leaders moderated by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The event was livestreamed on Wyden’s YouTube channel.

The business situation globally for U.S. tech firms is getting worse, said Schmidt, who was joined by representatives from Microsoft, Dropbox, Facebook and Greylock Partners. Countries like Brazil are moving ahead with what the tech leaders described as protectionist trade barriers.

“Something more fundamental occurred, a loss of trust between countries,” said Schmidt.  “Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it.”

If countries continue to proceed with data localization requirements, “that means the future of American companies could be half of what it is,” Schmidt said.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, cautioned that given how big the world’s market is outside the U.S., “if we want to retain the position of technology leadership in the long term it’s imperative we sustain people’s trust.”

Wyden, who attended the high school, concluded by saying he was determined to work to protect the industry.

“There is a clear and present danger to the Internet economy,” Wyden said. “I’m going to respond to it.”

Above: Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Oregon), with Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

 

 

 

 

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