Silicon Valley has always had close ties with the US government. But it appears the Trump administration would like to make those ties even more explicit: This morning, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani announced that he’s forming a new cybersecurity team for President-elect Trump, comprised of various private tech companies.
The team’s precise role in the new administration is still unclear, but the move will reportedly be formally announced later this morning.
“The President-elect decided that he wanted to bring in, on a regular basis, the people in the private sector, the corporate leaders in particular, the thought leaders, who were working on security for cyber,” Rudy Giuliani said this morning on Fox & Friends. “Because we’re so far behind.”
“It’s his belief, which I share, that a lot of the solutions are out there, we’re just not sharing them. It’s like cancer. You know, there’s cancer research going on all over the place—you’d almost wish they’d get together in one room and maybe we’d find a cure,” Giuliani said, with clearly no idea what the hell he’s talking about.
Previously, it had been assumed that Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and a billionaire with some rather strange beliefs about the world, was leading the charge in this area as a member of Trump’s transition team. (Thiel is the founder of his own company that’s deeply enmeshed in government cybersecurity contracts, Palantir.) So it’s a bit odd that Giuliani would be spearheading something like this. And as we’ve noted before, he’s not exactly the best choice.
“So the idea here is to bring together corporate leaders and their technological people. The president will meet with them on an ongoing basis as well as anybody else in the administration,” he said, explaining that he would be coordinating the new initiative.
From Google to Palantir to Oracle (which started as a CIA project), the private sector has always found deep pockets in Washington to spend on technology. But some high profile members of Silicon Valley have been rather reluctant to work with the incoming administration, given the nouveau fascistic flavor that Trump seems to give everything. This is the guy, after all, who has proposed building a registry for all Muslims.
But much like Republicans who were skeptical of Trump at first, it wouldn’t be a great shock if Silicon Valley fell in line. The heads of companies like Apple are obliged to care little about anything outside of making money. And the new administration has plenty of cash to throw their way in any number of ways.
It’s pretty clear that if the new administration wanted to build a “Muslim registry,” it wouldn’t really need to build anything new at all. They’d just need the cooperation of a few private companies that already know virtually everything about what you watch, what you buy, and where you go.
Update, 9:48am: The Transition team just sent out an official statement on the matter. As it notes, Guiliani is the head of “Greenberg Traurig and the Chairman and CEO of Giuliani Partners, an international security consulting firm.”
President-elect Trump is very pleased to announce former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cyber security problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector. This is a rapidly evolving field both as to intrusions and solutions and it is critically important to get timely information from all sources.
In addition, from time to time because of the changing nature of this problem, it is contemplated that the President-elect will be hosting a series of meetings with senior corporate executives from companies which have faced or are facing challenges similar to those facing the government and public entities today, such as hacking, intrusions, disruptions, manipulations, theft of data and identities, and securing information technology infrastructure.
The President-elect’s intent is to obtain experiential and anecdotal information from each executive on challenges faced by his/her company, how the company met the challenges, approaches which were productive or successful, and those which were not. The attendees may or may not change from session to session, but the specific agenda subjects will likely change because of the rapidly evolving field of cyber security, and frequent developments, both positive and negative. No consensus advice or recommendations resulting from group deliberations or interaction is expected or will be solicited.
Cyber intrusion is the fastest growing crime in the United States and much of the world. Its impact is felt from the individual citizen whose identity is stolen to the large private and government entities that have seen their confidential information seriously compromised. It is also a major threat to our national security.
As the use of modern communications and technology has moved forward at unparalleled speed the necessary defenses have lagged behind. The President-elect recognizes that this needs immediate attention and input from private sector leaders to help the government plan to make us more secure.
Mr. Giuliani was asked to initiate this process because of his long and very successful government career in law enforcement and his now sixteen years of work providing security solutions in the private sector.
Mr. Giuliani is the chairman of the global cyber security practice at Greenberg Traurig and the Chairman and CEO of Giuliani Partners, an international security consulting firm.