Technology Voter Guide 2008: Cynthia McKinney

The Green Party's presidential candidate wants Net neutrality legislation and more aggressive antitrust enforcement. Her favorite gadget is "the Internet."

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
4 min read

(Editor's note: We sent our survey questions to John Judge, Cynthia McKinney's press secretary, on August 21. We extended our deadline multiple times, and wrote to Judge last Thursday saying it was "too late" to make the deadline for the voter's guide, which we published at noon on Friday. After it was published, we finally received the below replies. A side note: The last question asked McKinney what her favorite tech gadget was, but she didn't answer the question, and Judge did not respond when we asked for a clarification.)

In the last few days before November 4, taxes and the economy have become the most pressing topics of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Cynthia McKinney

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 Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, 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?
McKinney: This should be done through grants and subsidies and new laws. America's "digital divide" is an impediment to this country's educational system. I would give special attention to programs that bring technology into the classrooms and homes of minority communities.

Congress considered Net neutrality legislation in 2006 but it never became law. Do you support the legislation reintroduced last year (S.215), which gives the FCC the power to punish "discriminatory" conduct by broadband providers?
McKinney: Yes. This legislation is very important to level the playing field for Internet users and providers.

Telecommunications companies including AT&T have been accused in court of opening their networks to the government in violation of federal privacy law. Would you have supported giving them retroactive immunity for any illicit cooperation with intelligence agencies or law enforcement, an immunization that became law with the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-261?
McKinney: As a member of Congress I voted against amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to allow the president and attorney general to authorize electronic surveillance without a court order. I do not support retroactive immunity for companies that violate federal privacy laws.

The 1998 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 DVD, HD-DVD, or video game disc they have legally purchased?
McKinney: I would consider a bill to change the DMCA for this purpose.

The Department of Homeland Security has written extensive Real ID requirements restricting what state ID cards can be accepted at federal buildings and airports, with the next compliance deadline set for December 31, 2009. Do you support those regulations as written, would you want to repeal Real ID, or something in between?
McKinney: I would take immediate steps to repeal the Real ID Act once elected. The Real ID is a step toward implementation of a national ID that can then be expanded during a national emergency. We've already seen the violations of civil rights that can occur in a disaster, after Hurricane Katrina. I oppose any steps toward a national ID. I also oppose the waivers permitted by the Act to facilitate construction of the United States border fence. The border fence is a wasteful militarized approach to the issue of immigration. Thousands who have been funneled into hostile terrain by the Mexican border fence have perished in the past decade. Congress should not have delegated the power to waive federal, state, and local laws regarding the construction of the fence to the Department of Homeland Security.

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?
McKinney: The federal government should take a more regulatory position, particularly in the area of protecting customers' personal information.

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?
McKinney: I support federal laws to protect children that balance the right to privacy for Internet users.

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 H.R.837, to mandate data retention?
McKinney: No. The bill is too vague and broadly written, particularly the section on record retention requirements for Internet service providers.

Do you support enacting federal laws providing for any or all of the following: a) a permanent research & development tax credit, b) a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes, c) an increase in the current limits on H-1B visas?
McKinney: Yes to all.

We have to know: what's your favorite gadget?
McKinney: I am most enthusiastic about participatory democracy via the Internet.