President Donald Trump’s statements to date on regulation in general and cybersecurity regulation in particular suggest a conflict between his desire to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity efforts and his general antipathy toward federal directives. Although President Trump may try to streamline and simplify the regulatory regime corporations face, he is unlikely to try to dramatically weaken U.S. laws in this area.
A Focus on Cyberdefense
Cybersecurity was a front-page issue throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, from Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to accusations of hacking by the Russian government to general discussions regarding the country’s cyberpreparedness in light of increasing threats from countries like Russia, China and North Korea. Although President Trump has challenged the intelligence community’s conclusions as to the source and motive of the cyberattacks against the election process, he stated throughout the campaign that cybersecurity would be a priority for his administration. To that end, President Trump has announced the creation of a Cyber Review Team tasked with evaluating the country’s cyberdefense and cyberoffense capabilities and created an elevated position — that of homeland security adviser, roughly on par with the national security adviser — for his top cybersecurity nominee, Thomas Bossert. In addition, Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s pick for CIA director, has spoken on the importance of cybersecurity in the intelligence space. In some respects, these moves signal a focus on cybersecurity as a national security issue rather than as a cybercrime or commercial issue, but the president is likely to recognize that the two are inextricably interconnected.