As reported by CNN, “Donald Trump told his audience at a campaign stop to boycott Apple if the company doesn’t give the ‘security number’ to the FBI to hack into the San Bernardino attacker’s iPhone.”

Yes, that’s a long way from e-books and apart from the mass surveillance controversy. Still, it makes me wonder how the right to read e-books in private would ultimately fare if Trump made it to the White House and the crazies on Capital Hill grew even worse.

Right now I’m not expecting an Orwellian scenario. But then again, who’d have thought that Trump would even run for President?  Last night he won the South Carolina primary, and Hillary Clinton prevailed in the Democrats’ Nevada caucus. Now suppose it’s November and new last-minute dirt surfaces on Ms. Clinton. Read the latest on her from The Atlantic.

Again, I’m talking remote possibilities, not the probability of a Trump presidency, but just as with Strangelovian scenarios, consequences can scary even if the odds are still on our side.

The negatives of a Trump presidency, of course, would go far beyond the e-book privacy issue in respect to technology and American life in general. What would you do if he won—personally, professionally and otherwise?

I doubt I’d leave the U.S., however much I’ll joke about it. But my mother’s side of the family has been here since the 1860s, and the Silicon Valley is full of brilliant techies without the same roots. What would you do in their place? I’d hope they would stay. With an xenophobic Trump and friends setting the tone in D.C. toward tech, however, I’m not so certain.

And speaking of leaving the U.S. if the wrong guy wins: Check out the Blue State movie on Amazon. It’s a romantic comedy, road flick and political satire about a young Dem who moves to Canada in the wake of George Bush’s victory over John Kerry. I’ve been pestering Joanna, the Canadian in the TeleRead family, so to speak, to give me her take on Blue State.

Related: Trump’s South Carolina victory could make him unstoppable in GOP race, by Anthony J. Gaughan, associate professor of law, Drake University, in The Conversation.


  1. Extrapolating this line of thinking (security uber allies) and factoring current technologies into it does bring up Orwellian scenarios. Even without back doors, it is currently possible to know all that you’ve searched for using Google. Just go to: log in and see what you’ve been up to. Google will tell you that “only you can see this data” but can you really believe that?
    Subject this info to analytic data mining techniques to build a “profile” that has predictive value. We are already using Learning Management Systems (LMS) to do this with students in college and elsewhere to gain insights into their learning proclivities, foibles, what have you. In the world of Phillip K. Dick’s “Minority Report” (short story), this would be called precognition.
    Can your eBook snitch on you? Adobe has already demonstrated that it can and that their DRM does snitch on you. Remember when brave librarians refused to tell the authorities what books you’ve checked out? They’ve just been circumvented.

  2. @Frank: My thanks for your comments, which I’ve just noticed. The scary thing is that Trump’s people might not just spy on the readers of subversive e-books—they’d very possibly do all they could to punish the authors for having written the books in the first place. I think Vox got The Donald and his supporters down just right,. as American authoritarians.

    For the benefit of people stumbling on the above post out of the blue, I’ll also point to USC Prof. Jonathan Taplin’s assessment of him: “If you want a view of what would happen to the creative arts in a Trump Presidency, just read the history of life for an artist in Berlin in 1934.”

    Meanwhile let’s not just think about Adobe and Google. Remember, Amazon is a major CIA contractor and recently removed encryption capabilities from some Fires.

    At any rate, while I’ll use the technology from all the companies mentioned here since I want access to zillions of books and need to keep up with the e-book world, I am not a happy camper. We’re not just talking about hypothetical Orwellian scenarios. Nixon very possibly would have gone on to much scarier things.

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