On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump and his top advisers repeatedly emphasized the need to protect America’s digital privacy.
“When it comes to cybersecurity, we have to have an information infrastructure that protects your data,” Trump said in February, during a rally in Ohio.
“We have to protect your privacy.”
But as the first presidential candidate to speak about this issue in his campaign, Trump did not explicitly say he would do away with the government’s ability to hack into your phone or your home.
Instead, he focused on “smart homes” that could be used by companies to monitor and control your devices.
On Wednesday, Trump’s senior national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said the president was “going to make sure that smart home devices that we’ve got are safe, secure, and encrypted.”
“The president’s going to make it clear that if he wants to make that happen, we are going to have to make those smart home rules,” Flynn told reporters at the White House.
On Thursday, Trump announced that he would create an Office of Science and Technology Policy to be headed by retired Gen. James Mattis, a former general and head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
“He’s going do it very quickly,” Flynn said.
“If he wants, we will have a position within the White Houses Science and Tech Council.”
Mattis is also the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the nation’s largest communications regulator.
He’s also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member who has advocated for a “net neutrality” rule, which would have prevented internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or otherwise favoring certain types of content.
On Twitter, the president called the move a “victory for the American people.”
“When we get smart home technology into our homes, our security, and our economy, we can protect our country and our future,” Trump tweeted.
The administration has been ramping up efforts to develop and deploy smart home systems.
On April 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new National Cybersecurity Center to help businesses and individuals create “smart home security” systems, which will be used for everything from controlling lighting to monitoring the health of their pets and their homes.
On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced a $50 million cybersecurity initiative for homeowners and businesses that can be used to monitor security breaches and other risks, like ransomware.
And the president has repeatedly touted the National Cyber Security Partnership, a government-wide initiative that is focused on cybersecurity and is led by his chief of staff, John Kelly.
The partnership is expected to provide “significant assistance to our agencies in cybersecurity” as well as provide “technical advice” to them on how to better protect themselves, Trump said last year.
The president has also repeatedly called for the “robust” and “effective” regulation of the tech industry.
On March 16, the White Street Journal reported that Trump had appointed former FTC Chair Mary Jo White to head the Whitehouse Office of Technology Policy, which is tasked with “promoting and promoting the economic, environmental, and social benefits of the technologies and services that drive the digital economy.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, White reiterated that the administration is focused “on economic development.”
“We are looking for new technologies that will benefit our economy and that will provide jobs,” White said.
White is not the first senior White House official to advocate for a government cybersecurity program.
In March, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Homeland and Labor Tom Perez, also a Democrat, wrote a joint letter to Congress, calling for a legislative fix for the cybersecurity law.
“As the president’s transition teams prepare to lead the U.S. into a digital age, we must focus on the urgent need to establish a framework for a comprehensive cybersecurity policy,” the letters said.
Trump has also said he would like to see “smart walls” built to protect against home intrusions.
“The most effective way to protect yourself is to have a wall around your house, around your home, around any device that you have in your home,” he said at a February rally.
“I am going to do that, and we’re going to start building the wall very soon.”