In the last few days before November 4, taxes and the economy have become the most pressing topics of the 2008 presidential campaign.
But knowing where the candidates stand on high-tech topics like digital copyright, surveillance, and Internet regulation can be revealing, which is why we've put together this 2008 Technology Voters' Guide.
Included are answers to questions we asked presidential candidates. We received replies from Republican Sen. John McCain, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, and independent candidate Ralph Nader.
Read on for responses from independent candidate Ralph Nader, or check out the rest of CNET News' election coverage.
Q: Politicians have been talking for years about the need for high-speed Internet access. Should this be accomplished primarily through deregulation and market forces, or should the federal government give out grants or subsidies, or enact new laws?
Nader: A combination of grants and subsidies with new laws should be how we accomplish this. As the people of the United States have seen recently, deregulation rarely works to the advantage of the masses. It is vitally important that all communities have access to the potentially life-saving advantages of the Internet.
Congress has considered Net neutrality legislation, but it never became law. Do you still support the legislation that was re-introduced in 2007 (S 215), which gives the FCC the power to punish "discriminatory" conduct by broadband providers?
Nader: I believe that an open society should have unfettered access to the information on the Internet. The government should protect citizens from discriminatory access.
Telecommunications companies such as AT&T have been accused in court of opening their networks to the government in violation of federal privacy law. Do you support
giving them retroactive immunity for any illicit cooperation with intelligence agencies or law enforcement, which was proposed by the Senate Intelligence Committee this fall (S 2248)?
Nader: The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 puts the president and the telecommunications companies above the law. It also conveniently assures a cover-up of Bush's past crimes in this area of wiretapping and surveillance.
President Bush and the Democrats who support him argue that the telecommunications companies were only doing what they were told by the president and were acting as "patriotic corporate citizens." This is pure hogwash.
First of all, corporations aren't citizens. Second, the president can't order anyone, citizens or corporations, to break the law. This legislation sets up a double standard of justice: break the law as a citizen, go to jail. Break the law as a corporation, go to Washington and get immunity.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act's section restricting the "circumvention" of copy protection measures is supported by many copyright holders but has been criticized by some technologists as hindering innovation. Would you support changing the DMCA to permit Americans to make a single backup copy of a DVD, Blu-ray Disc DVD, HD DVD, or video game disc they have legally purchased?
The Department of Homeland Security has
proposed extensive Real ID requirements restricting which state ID cards can be accepted at federal buildings and airports. Do you support those regulations as written, would you want to repeal Real ID, or would you prefer something in between?
Nader: I would advocate to repeal Real ID laws.
The U.S. Department of Justice currently is reviewing the proposed advertising deal between Google and Yahoo, and the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger of Google and DoubleClick. Should the federal government take a more or less regulatory position on antitrust and high-tech firms?
Nader: The federal government is obligated to be vigilant and enforce antitrust laws.
Recently, there's been a lot of talk about sex offenders using social-networking sites. What, if any, new federal laws are needed in this area?
Nader: I advocate that the duty lies with parents and their obligation to oversee what their child is doing on the Internet.
The Bush administration has supported legally requiring Internet service providers, and perhaps search engines and social-networking Web sites as well, to keep logs on who their users are and what they do. Do you support federal legislation, such as HR 837, to mandate data retention?
Nader: No, it is a violation of our fundamental right to privacy.
Do you support enacting federal laws providing for any or all of the following: a) a permanent research-and-development tax credit, b) a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes, and c) an increase in the current limits on H-1B visas?
Nader: a), on a permanent research & development tax credit, yes.
b), on a permanent moratorium on Internet Access taxes, yes.
c), on an increase in the current limits on H-1B visas, yes, because unrestricted H-1B visas creates a "brain drain" on developing countries that need the support of promising young people to help develop their country.
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