January 3, 2020 / 8:28 PM / a month ago

Trump administration officials to talk tech policy at Las Vegas confab

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration will send a big contingent of senior officials to an annual technology gathering in Las Vegas next week as the tech industry faces increased scrutiny in Washington.

FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are seen in a combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photo

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios will be among more than 150 other government officials from the United States and around the world will attend CES, the annual tech industry event. In prior years, the event has drawn fewer senior U.S. officials — typically just one cabinet official — and did not draw any in 2019 because of a government shutdown.

The event, which runs from Jan. 7-10, draws more 175,000 visitors and 4,500 companies exhibiting new technologies, including airlines, automakers, battery manufacturers and hundreds of tech start-ups.

The White House has touted technology improvements as a way to boost U.S. employment and is working to ease regulatory barriers to advanced technologies like drones and self-driving cars. At the same time, the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are probing whether big tech firms like Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com and Apple Inc are violating antitrust laws.

The largest tech firms generally skip CES in favor of holding their own events.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons will speak at a fireside chat, and three of the other four FCC commissioners will attend as will two other FTC commissioners.

Pai has proposed shifting part of a block spectrum set aside for auto safety to accommodate the rapidly growing number of wireless devices. Numerous companies are displaying new wireless devices at CES. Chao is expected to talk about self-driving car policies.

Elena Hernandez, spokeswoman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said Friday that Kratsios will be at CES to discuss the administration’s national strategy for artificial intelligence launched in 2018.

“Recognizing the significance of technology on the American workforce, our national security, and the U.S. economy, the Trump administration continues to make leadership in the cutting-edge industries of the future a top priority,” Hernandez said.

President Donald Trump, who has had strained relations with technology companies and criticized several major firms for alleged bias against conservatives, has met repeatedly with major tech company CEOs since taking office, including meetings in 2019 with the chief executives of Facebook, Apple and Google.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler

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