Bay Area tech workers brace for fight against Trump

As the clock winds down before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, tech workers in the Bay Area are prepping for an uphill battle against the incoming administration.

A group called Tech Solidarity has been gathering tech workers and other advocates to discuss what they can do to prepare for what Trump may do once he officially becomes president, including the creation of a Muslim registry.

And the meetings are reportedly attracting the attendance of some high-profile Silicon Valley executives such as Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, Recode reported. Stamos declined to comment to the tech blog, but gave them permission to print his name.

The group has already met twice in the Bay Area and 155 people attended its last meeting on Jan. 6, according to a tweet from Tech Solidarity. Maciej Ceglowski, a Polish-born developer who runs bookmarking site Pinboard, and Heather Gold, a Bay Area comedian and freelance writer, have been organizing the events.

The rules: Everything you hear is public, but don’t attribute comments, or identify participants, without permission. Meeting dates and times are publicized on the group’s Twitter account, but people are asked to contact the organizer for more details about the location.

They’ve raised concerns about the troves of data that major companies such as Google and Facebook collect about their users and how that could be used to identify or target Muslims.

“I understand that companies collecting behavioral data can’t change their entire business model, but there are many ways we can do it more safely. How do we throw sand in the gears? What kind of data are we storing that can be anonymized, or fed into machine learning models and discarded?” according to notes from Tech Solidarity’s Nov. 28 meeting, which were published online.

Meetings are also being organized this month in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Portland, according to the group’s Twitter account.

Meanwhile, Trump has been also been hosting his own meetings with Silicon Valley tech leaders. Last month, the president-elect met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and other tech titans, telling them he wanted to help them do well.

And internally, tech workers are grappling with how Trump is using the tools they create. Twitter has been facing calls throughout his campaign and after the election to take down his account for disseminating misinformation or hate speech.

But it doesn’t appear that will happen anytime soon.

“Banning is definitely a conversation that people are having, but only because we have to have the conversation,” an anonymous Twitter employee told The Verge. “But a ban seems unlikely. It would take something really deplorable for a ban, and I highly doubt even Trump is that stupid.”

Photo: Republican President-elect Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to the crowd during his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 in New York City. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

 

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  • As a 30-year veteran of software development, I’m astonished at the level of suppressiveness of these so-called “tech workers”. Maybe these “tech” workers are the kind of people who come from the very same extremely suppressive countries that President Trump has been talking about, and so they have no problem with “banning” anyone who doesn’t fit their agenda.

 
 
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