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Ron Paul, Presidential Candidate and Has A Technology Policy

Here is the first of the Presidential Candidate technology profiles. I start with Ron Paul. Why? Because unlike the usual suspects, the man has a clear position about something technology-related on his Web site and apparently caused a stir at the recent debates. Of course at the first one the stir was positive (MSNBC showed that some believe he “won” the debate) and at the one last night, well, it appears that the spotlight was less than kind about his views on the war. Nonetheless he has a technology position, and it is mainly focused on privacy. (Hat tip to those posting comments on the IT Consulting piece. They pointed out Paul’s position.)

Congressman Paul is a Republican and ran as a Libertarian in 1988. In CNET’s 2006 Technology Voter Guide, Paul was the highest rated technology friendly member of either the House or Senate with an 80% rating. (Note that I do not endorse the CNET methodology, especially given that one can easily argue with what the folks at CNET considered technology friendly. It is nonetheless a way to sort the candidates and provides some nice interactive tools to see how people voted on topics. In short, you can go there and make your own decisions about whether a vote was technology friendly or not). Paul’s Web site lists Privacy and Personal Liberty as an issue and that is where one can find his technology-related positions. In short he is against a national ID, thinks that medical and financial privacy protection is weak, and claims to have opposed the Patriot Act’s expansion of privacy invading governmental powers. Curiously, the CNET piece claims Paul voted against a five year ban on Internet taxes which, given Paul’s general position against taxes, makes me wonder what else was in the bill. Paul also voted to restrict access to social networking sites at schools; yet, his site is quite aware of the power of such sites (see below). Perhaps school children do not need to learn about elections. As for stem cell research, Paul has stated that the issue is complex and that he is against federal funding for it. It is less clear whether he thinks there should be a ban on such research though he did say in a debate that the market and states should decide the issue.

As for the Web site itself, there are many social networking links including meetup, YouTube, myspace, flickr,, and Digg. There is even a YouTube video on the home page. The page is a bit dense in that the issues and about the candidate links are small and buried in the middle of the page. Still as far as campaign sites go, the big action links such as “Join” and “Contribute” are easy to find and placing them over what appears to be the Bill of Rights is a nice touch given his political stance. I guess wrapping oneself in the Bill of Rights is clearer than the flag.

One more interesting technology point: Apparently Paul supporters were handing out DVDs at the recent debate with an insert that read “Watch it, copy it, and pass it on. Our country DEPENDS on it.” So perhaps Mr. Paul is pro Creative Commons or against strong IP rights? Maybe he thinks that IP “criminals” are bad, but believes that the copyright owner can dispose of the property as she sees fit. Who can tell? If he had more about IP and technology on his site, maybe we could. 

So there it is. One down; many to go. 


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