Tech Industry

Technology Voters' Guide: Hillary Clinton

She supports tax incentives to extend broadband, wants open, unimpaired Internet access for all, and has serious concerns about Real ID. 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, 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 Sen. Hillary Clinton, or check out CNET'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?
Hillary Clinton: Broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st century. It will play an important role in everything from commerce to education to the delivery of medicine. Our relatively low broadband penetration rate is unacceptable. I believe that there is a role for private industry and for the federal government to play in expanding access to broadband.

As president, I will strengthen tax incentives for extending broadband to underserved areas. I will support state and local broadband initiatives, from new wireless technologies to high-speed fiber optics. And I will change the FCC rules so that we finally have an accurate, detailed picture of broadband deployment and penetration rates.

At present, the FCC data is unreliable because it is based on loose estimates and outdated standards. I will also create a public-private partnership to effectively map broadband availability and broadband demand, and to extend broadband to every corner of every state in the country.

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?
Clinton: Yes. I am an original co-sponsor of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, and I supported its reintroduction. No other communications medium in recent history has had such a profound impact as the Internet on free expression, education, the proliferation of commerce, and the exchange of political ideas. And it is the basic principles of neutrality and nondiscrimination that have allowed the Internet to flourish.

Thanks to these principles, a small business has been able to market to the same customers as the biggest corporation. The average citizen has been able to voice grievances in the same forum as the editors of the largest newspaper. And students, entrepreneurs, and consumers have been empowered by the wealth of information and opportunities afforded by an open Internet.

As we continue to build on the innovations brought forth by the Internet, we must ensure that there continues to be open, unimpaired, and unencumbered Internet access for both its users and content providers. We need to ensure that the Internet of the 21st century opens the same doors, creates the same opportunities, and fosters the same innovation that we have seen so far.

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)?
Clinton: I have said that I oppose retroactive immunity for telecommunications providers, and I oppose the retroactive immunity provisions in the Senate Intelligence Committee bill.

The 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?
Clinton: Strong copyright protections and efforts to stem piracy are critical to ensuring that our technology industries remain competitive in the global market. As we go forward, I would support a review of a range of issues related to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act insofar as it did not concern degrading copyright protections or encourage copyright infringements.

The Department of Homeland Security 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?
Clinton: I believe we need to seriously re-examine Real ID and make changes that take into account legitimate concerns raised by states. I have long expressed concern with the Real ID Act, dating back to its initial consideration in the Senate in the spring of 2005.

Had there been an opportunity to properly consider this legislation, it would have been revealed that the Real ID Act imposes dramatic new burdens on our states and substantially changes our immigration and asylum laws in ways that deserve critical examination.

Among other things, Real ID's driver's license provisions impose a massive unfunded mandate on states, while ignoring our broken immigration system.

But there never was an opportunity to consider it properly. Senate Republicans brought this legislation up for a vote without holding hearings or engaging in serious debate, and by tacking it on to an emergency spending bill for our troops. By employing these tactics, Republicans revealed that they were determined to bulldoze this law through without serious discussion.

I support a comprehensive review of Real ID to determine whether its various ID provisions make sense in light of our very real security needs and the challenges facing our states.

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.)
Clinton: I believe that a thorough review process for this proposed merger was appropriate, given concerns about consumer privacy. I have long been concerned about the privacy rights of Americans. That is why I introduced legislation to provide consumers with a comprehensive set of data protections that are appropriate for the age of electronic commerce. The , for example, prohibits vendors from mishandling personal information about consumers and protects consumers who are victims of identity theft.

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?
Clinton: Protecting children against sexual predators is an issue of great importance to all parents. In the Senate, I was proud to co-sponsor and support the , which became law in 2006.

This legislation strengthened sex offender laws already on the books and updated registration requirements to include Internet offenses. It also places the responsibility on sex offenders to register with local authorities, requires them to notify those authorities when they move or change jobs, and makes it a felony to fail to register.

Additionally, it set national minimum standards for classifying sex offenders, a big step toward eliminating the lag time in classification and registration that occurs when sex offenders move across state lines.

Parents--and all concerned citizens--should have the ability to access information to see if a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood or near other places where their children spend time. As president, I will continue to fight to protect children and keep sexual predators from reaching them.

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?
Clinton: Our primary concern must always be the protection of our children. I believe that we must strike a balance between blanket data retention and activity tracking of all Internet users that some bills propose, and legitimate law enforcement efforts to seek out online predators who are using the Internet to prey on victims.

I would support effective and constitutional efforts to strengthen law enforcement's ability to track and stop online predators. Simultaneously, I would ensure that the privacy rights of lawful users of the Internet are protected.

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?
Clinton: As part of my Innovation Agenda, I have called for making the R&D tax credit permanent. A permanent tax credit will eliminate uncertainty and make it easier for companies to plan their R&D budgets. This will make America a more attractive location for R&D facilities and increase the likelihood that high-paying research jobs will be created here rather than abroad.

I have co-sponsored legislation to extend the moratorium on Internet taxes.

I have also supported significantly increasing the cap on H-1B visas because they are effective tool for attracting the best and brightest to America. However, I support increasing the H-1B cap as part of comprehensive immigration reform. I also believe that the cost of the visa should be increased, with the proceeds used to train American workers.

We have to know: what's your favorite gadget?
Clinton: My BlackBerry.