By Jake Nonnemaker
Although AXICOM ’s primary focus is on small business IT solutions, it’s still important for us, as IT providers, as well as our clients to understand the direction and the issues of IT on a national level. In my opinion, there are three major issues that face our country today and which might be addressed during the election and in the presidential debates.
Encryption is a very important issue for the United States. Terrorists and criminals use encryption to communicate and hide their illegal dealings and deadly plans. But encryption is also critical to e-commerce and banking as well as police and military communications. The double-edged sword of encryption gained prominence when the FBI sought Apple's help in gaining access to an encrypted iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorist. Apple CEO Tim Cook cited liberty and privacy in his refusal to weaken the iPhone encryption for law enforcement.
There is a significant concern of forcing companies, such as Apple, to create backdoors so law enforcement could go around or circumvent encryption. And that is, if a backdoor exists, it is guaranteed to be found and exploited by cyber criminals, tech-savvy terror groups and state-backed foreign cybersecurity teams from countries such as China, North Korea, Iran, etc. Backdoors are also a threat to our personal privacy and the security of our individual data, email and voice calls and other communication.
Privacy has become an important issue especially since WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden released documents unveiling National Security Administration (NSA) surveillance activities on American citizens. Much of this surveillance has come in the form of the collecting of phone records of citizens both in the US and overseas in bulk and indiscriminately. As of November 28, 2015, the USA Freedom Act has stipulated that phone data will now be held with telecom companies and the NSA will have to go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court to get access. Additionally, the FISA court is being forced to declassify some information about its rulings and allow some challenges from outside bodies.
STEM and Preparing for a Tech-based Economy
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says the US will need “approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade if the country is to retain its historical preeminence in science and technology.” The US BLS reports that as of July 2015, there were 5.8 million unfilled jobs primarily due to a job-skills gap in engineering, technical and science related jobs.