January 2, 2008 4:00 AM PST
Technology Voters' Guide: Barack Obama
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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?
Obama: I do not support the Real ID program because it is an unfunded mandate, and not enough work has been done with the states to help them implement the program.
The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the proposed merger of Google and DoubleClick. Some members of Congress have raised privacy concerns, while others have said the deal should proceed. What are your views? (Editors' note: We posed this question before the FTC gave the merger unconditional approval on December 20.)
Congress has debated the right approach to privacy protection for years. I will work with leading legislators, privacy advocates, and business leaders to strengthen both voluntary and legally required privacy protections.
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?
Obama: What is needed is greater resources for law enforcement to fully enforce the law against sex offenders, greater education to empower kids and teens to recognize the threat and guard themselves against the threat, and parents who are engaged in their kids' lives.
Social-networking sites are just one way sex offenders seek out victims, and I would not support targeting them specifically, but I would be open to any legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to bring sex offenders to justice.
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?
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?
Obama: a) Yes.
c) Highly skilled immigrants have contributed significantly to our domestic technology industry. But we have a skills shortage, not a worker shortage. There are plenty of Americans who could be filling tech jobs, given the proper training. I am committed to investing in communities and people who have not had an opportunity to work and participate in the Internet economy as anything other than consumers.
Most H-1B new arrivals, for example, have earned a bachelor's degree or its equivalent abroad (42.5 percent). They are not all Ph.D.s. We can and should produce more Americans with bachelor's degrees that lead to jobs in technology.
A report of the National Science Foundation reveals that blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans as a whole comprise more that 25 percent of the population but earn, as a whole, 16 percent of the bachelor degrees, 11 percent of the master's degrees, and 5 percent of the doctorate degrees in science and engineering.
We can do better than that and go a long way toward meeting industry's need for skilled workers with Americans. Until we have achieved that, I will support a temporary increase in the H-1B visa program as a stopgap measure until we can reform our immigration system comprehensively.
I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes improvement in our visa programs, including our legal permanent-resident visa programs and temporary programs including the H-1B program, to attract some of the world's most talented people to America.
We have to know: what's your favorite gadget?
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