Tech Gets Political

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Does America's Technocracy Have the Clout to Overcome the President?

Trump's 90 day immigration ban has caused widespread chaos and confusion throughout the tech companies of America. The responses of industry executives vary, with many companies lining up to condemn, and in some cases take action against, a move that they fear will do irreparable damage to an industry that relies heavily on immigration.

On Monday, encouraged by senior staff, over 2,000 Google employees rallied against the executive order. Co-founder, Sergey Brin, spoke to protesters at Mountain View: "I'm here because I'm a refugee." Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc, Eric Schmidt explained that although he expected 'evil things' of the Trump administration, "there are limits to what we can do".

Amazon apparently doesn't think so. Jeff Bezos, who Trump threatened with antitrust and tax investigations throughout his campaign, has pledged the full legal resources of his company to fight the order.

Amazon is based in Seattle, Washington – this state has become the first to file a lawsuit against the President concerning the ban; Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, claims that Trump's actions are separating Washington's families, harming residents and damaging the state's economy.

Expedia and Microsoft, also based in Seattle, are reportedly preparing statements about how Trump's actions will negatively impact on their businesses.

A statesmanlike Zuckerberg also weighed in with a restrained plea for unity:

"We should... keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That's who we are."

This week's events feel a far cry from the optimism of December and the tech world's apparent determination to make nice with the new president. The global technology and communications industries have an innate distaste for borders, but this isn't the only issue. More than 250,000 Muslims live in the San Francisco Bay area and many work in technology. Companies like Google are directly affected by the ban as vital employees can now be prevented from reentering the country.

The British tech industry is hoping to benefit from this pandemonium across the pond. After months of uncertainty following the Brexit vote, it appears that the UK may now have the opportunity it has been waiting for. As Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, puts it: "whilst Americans turn people away at the border, London is open for business."

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