“The tech industry has found a surprising new ally in its effort to shape public policy in Washington: the 82-year-old libertarian billionaire Charles Koch,” Nancy Scola reports for Politico. “Two organizations founded by Koch, one an education-focused institute and the other a grant-making foundation, have spent the past year ramping up their efforts to shape public debate on tech policy topics like self-driving cars and the rights of online publishers.”

“And despite their ideological distance on issues like the Paris climate accord, the Koch groups and left-leaning Silicon Valley are working together to advance the argument that innovation is most likely to flourish when legislators and regulators leave it alone,” Scola reports. “‘We tend to think that there’s a role for government, but it’s limited,’ Jesse Blumenthal, who leads the Charles Koch Institute’s tech policy portfolio, said in an interview at the organization’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. He called technology a prime example of how people can see their quality of life improved, and their existences less constrained, when the free market is allowed to work.”

“The deep-pocketed Koch groups have the resources to help tech put on educational events, co-host conferences and fund academic research. But the alliance with Charles Koch also allows Silicon Valley to expand its contacts and influence in the age of Donald Trump,” Scola reports. “The Koch brothers… have found common cause with Trump on one major issue of late: Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has thrown its weight behind the tax code overhaul.”

“The Koch Institute views encryption as providing the strong digital privacy protections that citizens need to live out free lives — in contrast to law enforcement advocates who say it allows terrorists and drug smugglers to hide on the internet. The group argues that self-driving cars might need some rules of the road but that regulators should take a light touch. And it believes that holding websites responsible for what users post on them — as Congress is poised to do, with bipartisan bills that target online sex trafficking ads — is one step toward ‘turning the platforms into checkpoints the government can use to censor speech,'” Scola reports. “Those positions overlap nearly completely with what major tech firms like Apple, Google and Facebook have advanced.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

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