With Trump In White House, Tech Workers Might Be Getting More Politically Active

By Tracey Lien
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Many tech workers in silicon valley are now looking for ways big and small to allay their own fears of how a Trump administration might affect issues such as privacy, immigration and civil rights.

SAN FRANCISCO

Ayelet Bitton never thought she’d get involved in politics. Like many of her Silicon Valley peers, the 25-year-old software engineer cared about social and political issues but didn’t think it was her place to speak up.

“I used to stay away from political conversations because they could get awkward,” said Bitton, who develops software for San Francisco ride-hailing firm Lyft.

This changed Nov. 8.

Donald Trump’s presidential victory sent a shock wave through the socially liberal but generally politically detached tech industry, catalyzing something of an awakening in Silicon Valley.

Some tech workers who had long toed their companies’ apolitical lines saw Trump’s win as a turning point; the moment when they should become more vocal about their views.

In the months since the election, some workers have organized protests. Others have joined fledgling activist groups such as the Tech Workers Coalition, or the recently formed Tech Solidarity. Many are now looking for ways big and small to allay their own fears of how a Trump administration might affect issues such as privacy, immigration and civil rights.

“It’s no secret there’s a lot of privilege here in Silicon Valley,” said Bitton, who acknowledged that the affluence of the sector and the liberal bubble of the Bay Area meant few tech workers had realized the stakes of the election, or thought Trump would win. “But now I feel compelled to stand with movements that don’t directly affect me,” she said.

For Bitton’s part, she immediately upped her monthly donation to Planned Parenthood. She started donating to the American Civil Liberties Union. She signed an online pledge to never build software that could be used for the mass deportation of immigrants. And she walked in the Women’s March in Oakland, the first time she’d ever taken part in a protest.

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