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Apple, others urge presidential candidates to support Trans-Pacific Partnership, address government snooping

Apple and a cadre of Silicon Valley heavyweights have plans to issue a nonpartisan letter urging the next U.S. president to back the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a policy that would make hiring foreign workers a low friction process.




According to Reuters, which saw a copy of the document, the interests of tech industry giants Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Uber and others are being represented by 13 industry groups. The Internet Association, Telecommunications Industry Association and Information Technology Industry Council are among the letter's signatories.

Covering a dozen trade policy recommendations, the open letter is directed at presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, both of whom have not adopted TPP as part of their political platforms.

As noted by the publication, Trump's campaign is anchored by hardline immigration policies, though he appears willing to make concessions for highly skilled foreign workers. Clinton's stance is proactive by comparison, with the former secretary of state promising to increase the number of visas for qualified applicants. Neither Trump nor Clinton have taken a definitive position on TPP, which was signed in February but has not yet seen implementation.

In addition to trade agreements, the letter also asks for "narrowly targeted government access to user data" and recognition of consumer privacy issues, specifically that encryption be deemed a "critical security tool." Apple was recently involved in two high-profile court cases after resisting FBI warrants for assistance in accessing passcode-locked iPhones. The legal battle sparked a contentious debate over encryption rights.

Other topics addressed in the document include online censorship, a call to back the so-called "sharing economy" and tax issues.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the letter is the first to represent a wide range of tech industry interests on a single platform during a presidential campaign. The document will officially make its way to campaign runners later on Wednesday ahed of the July convention season, and months before the general election in November.