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Daily Debrief: With tech and the elections, where's the beef?Silicon Valley likes to think it has political influence in Washington. But will the big tech issues du jour interest the general electorate during the run-up to the presidential election in November? CNET News' Declan McCullagh, who attended the Democratic...
[ Music ] ^M00:00:05 >> Charlie Cooper: The political conventions are over. The candidates are hitting the road, but what about their previous positions regarding technology questions? Welcome to the CNET News Daily Debrief. I'm Charlie Cooper here with my colleague, Declan McCullagh, and we were both in St. Paul and in Denver for the Republican and Democratic conventions. Question du jour, in your conversations with delegates, with party insiders, did technology as an issue, as a possible campaign plank, come up at all or is Silicon Valley misguided in thinking it still has a lot of political punch that their concerns really aren't going to be much of an agenda item in a lead us to the fall elections? >> Declan McCullagh: We're not going to have debates about net neutrality and P2P file sharing. >> Charlie Cooper: Darn it. I'm so unhappy. >> Declan McCullagh: I'm sorry to break the news to you, but in terms of green technology and energy policy, this is one of the top issues of the campaign. Obama wants things like greater-- let me look at my notes, more renewable energy, emphasis on this combined with some tax incentives, more plug and hybrids and a windfall profit tax on oil companies. I mean this is kind of odd, because Exxon's profit margin is only 10%, but Google's is 25%. So I'm not sure why he's singling out one or the other. Maybe you can clear that up for me. >> Charlie Cooper: I'm gonna take a pass on that, but let's run through a few of the hot button issues at least here in the Valley. FISA, where did the two parties come out on that? >> Declan McCullagh: So that I'm aware of the two presidential candidate's stand on that and in terms of retroactive immunity, that is blessing-- >> Charlie Cooper: And FISA is the Surveillance Act. >> Declan McCullagh: Exactly, yeah. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In terms of retroactive immunity, blessing illegal, but hey if you're biotelecommunications firms, Obama said and told us early this year, no way I would do this. He changed his mind. He supported it. McCain always said he'll support it. So there's actually no difference as a matter of practical politics and votes between those two. On other things, there still are differences. >> Charlie Cooper: Copyright? >> Declan McCullagh: There is a difference. McCain wants more copyright enforcement and Obama says something to the effect of well, let's rethink copyright laws in maybe a more fair use direction. >> Charlie Cooper: You mentioned net neutrality, any difference between the two candidates? Will they take a stand? >> Declan McCullagh: Another difference. Obama loves it. McCain is skeptical. >> Charlie Cooper: Why? >> Declan McCullagh: Well, he doesn't have a huge 20-page detailed document on it, but what he's told us and what he's said on his website it's basically let's not have preemptive regulation. If it's a problem, then we'll target broadband providers. This is broadly consistent with what the Democrats are saying and what the Republicans are saying. Both are sort of mirroring their own parties' positions. >> Charlie Cooper: Does McCain really know what he's talking about when it comes to technology. I mean this with no disrespect, but it's been reported that he's not exactly computer savvy. >> Declan McCullagh: Well, it's an open question about how necessary it is for someone to be computer savvy. I mean you presumably have a President who doesn't understand the details of agricultural policy, they're not farmers anymore, nevertheless, they're in charge and directing the Department of Agriculture. >> Charlie Cooper: But they know barnyard epithets. >> Declan McCullagh: [Laughter] They do. In terms of McCain directly, I don't think anyone's saying that he's the most wired person on the planet, but he was Chairman of the Senate committee that oversees internet regulation. He picked up stuff along the way. >> Charlie Cooper: Well briefly in terms of energy, you alluded to this at the beginning of the segment, a McCain administration versus an Obama administration, would clean energy look any different? >> Declan McCullagh: The big difference is drilling, right? I mean drill, baby, drill. I mean this is what we heard at the Republican convention. We had a lot of clean coal, America's power-- >> Charlie Cooper: Turn around for the camera. >> Declan McCullagh: --dot.org buttons given out by the coal industry at the Republican convention as well. That is one difference. So it's McCain's saying let's drill and let's have green tech and Obama's saying let's just have green tech and maybe some taxes on the oil companies. >> Charlie Cooper: And after this, we're going back to your office. I wanna take a look at those [inaudible]. On behalf of Declan McCullagh, I'm Charlie Cooper. ^M00:04:24 [ Music ]