What to Expect When the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft Visit the White House

On Wednesday in Washington, President Joe Biden will hold his first high-profile meeting with the executives of some of the world’s largest digital businesses to discuss how to improve the countries’ cybersecurity and supply chain security.

According to those familiar with the situation, new Amazon (AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy will be among the participants. According to Bloomberg, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella are also on the guest list.

Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai, IBM (IBM) CEO Arvind Krishna, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, and energy giant Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning are all expected to attend the conference, according to Bloomberg.

We may expect some details to come out of the meeting, even though it is being held behind closed doors. The meeting comes as the Biden administration is reportedly investigating Apple, Google, and Amazon for possible antitrust violations, as well as the president’s and his team’s repeated critiques of Big Tech’s role in the spread of disinformation.

Cybersecurity has become a growing concern within the government following the massive hack of government systems, including the Department of Defense, by Russian hackers in December 2020. A ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in April, and the revelation in July that China-based hackers attacked 23 U.S. pipeline companies from 2011 through 2013, only added to calls for improved cybersecurity at the national level.

Biden and Big Tech

On the one hand, the president and his advisors have frequently chastised their own corporations for how they conduct business. When questioned about his message for platforms like Facebook when it comes to vaccination misinformation in July, Biden responded, “They’re killing people.” The president later backtracked on his remarks, but he has maintained an adversarial attitude toward the business.

In May, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked, cutting off over half of the East Coast’s fuel capacity, causing shortages in some areas as cars stocked up on gasoline. Following the event, the president called for “more private-sector investment in cybersecurity.”

On Wednesday, the president is expected to ask CEOs for such a contribution. However, the meeting takes place at a time when he and his administration have created a tense relationship with the internet behemoths on a number of fronts.

Biden has also staffed his administration with a mix of prominent critics of Big Tech — like the selection of prominent Amazon critic Lina Khan to head the Federal Trade Commission — that seemed to signal his team would take a tough stance towards tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.

On the other hand, Biden has also populated his administration with some veterans of the technology industry as the Wall Street Journal reported in May. And just Monday, The New York Times reported that Apple and Google were urging trade officials in Washington to fight a South Korean bill that could hurt their app store businesses.

‘An ongoing negotiation’

Despite its rocky relationship with Silicon Valley, the Biden administration may need IT companies to assist protect the country from cyber-attacks.

Attacks on high-profile targets, such as the Colonial Pipeline, make international news. Aside from those high-profile examples, states and local governments have also been hit by hackers that have harmed everything from their records to their 9-1-1 systems.

Furthermore, resolving the attacks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted time, labor, and new equipment, money that many communities lack. Older software, user error, and poorly configured security systems are all common causes of such breaches.

Biden admitted in May that he can’t compel private enterprises to adopt security measures to prevent attacks. “It’s becoming evident to everyone that we need to do more than what we’re doing now,” he added.

Within the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the Biden administration has proposed over $1 billion in incentives for cybersecurity enhancements for state, local, and tribal governments.

The federal government has also moved forward with new cybersecurity rules for pipeline operators, requiring them to report any cyberattacks on their systems to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as put in place safeguards to prevent future cyberattacks.

During a trip to Asia this week, Vice President Kamala Harris made supply chain security a priority. On Tuesday, she launched a new relationship with Singapore to maintain robust supply chains, and she hosted a roundtable discussion on the topic.

The pandemic has “highlighted the fractures, weaknesses, and fissures in our systems,” Harris said to the assembled leaders.

Source: Yahoo News

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