Technology Voters' Guide: Ron Paul

Republican thinks a free market is key to broadband expansion and that feds should stay out of mergers and social networks. Special coverage: Election 2008

Iraq, immigration, taxes, and health care probably have been the four most pressing topics of the 2008 presidential campaign. Technology has made nary an appearance.

Sure, there have been the YouTube-ified debates, MySpace.com polls, record-setting fund-raising efforts, and the now-obligatory Google office visits.

But knowing where the candidates stand on high-tech topics like digital copyright, surveillance, and Internet taxes can be revealing, which is why we've put together this 2008 Technology Voters' Guide.

In late November, we sent questionnaires to the top candidates--measured by funds raised and poll standings--from each major party. We asked each the same 10 questions.

Not all candidates chose to respond: Republicans Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson rebuffed our requests, as did Democrats Joe Biden and Bill Richardson. In all such cases, we made repeated efforts to try to convince them to change their minds.

Read on for responses from Rep. Ron Paul, or check out CNET News.com's election coverage roundup, featuring other Technology Voters' Guide candidate reports.

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?
Ron Paul: I believe that this can be best accomplished through deregulation and allowing the free market to work. Federal grants and subsidies will only elevate certain providers while holding back others. If the high-speed Internet access market is allowed to work without interference, fierce competition will drive down prices, as it did with dial-up access.

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?
Paul: No. Net neutrality legislation will hamper the development of new Internet services and harm consumers in the long run. The best way to address the concerns of proponents of Net neutrality is to remove government-imposed barriers to entry into the Internet provider market.

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 with intelligence agencies or law enforcement, which was proposed by the Senate Intelligence Committee this fall (S 2248)?
Paul: No. I would in no way support giving them immunity for breaking privacy laws. One of the legitimate functions of the federal government is to protect the privacy of its citizens, not invade it. If private companies cooperated with the federal government in violating the Fourth Amendment rights of their customers, they should be held accountable.

The '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?
Paul: While I have not yet made a full study of this issue, I would tend to protect the rights of consumers to make a backup copy of materials they have purchased, as long as the consumers complied with any contractual obligations they incurred when purchasing the product.

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