Obama vs. McCain – Technology

An aide for Senator McCain inadvertently provided fodder for late night comedy when he pointed to his Blackberry and stated that the Senator was responsible for it. It is not an exaggeration to say that a gaffe along similar lines successfully smeared Al Gore 8 years ago( remember who invented the internet, anyone?) This time around, the blunder did not really capture national media attention, probably due to relative high-mindedness of the Democrats and the tendency of the media to give a pass to McCain's senior moments. Jokes apart, though, let's take a look at what the two candidate' views on and approach to technology, an issue that is of particular interest in Silicon Valley.

Barack Obama – With a thin resume in the Senate because of relatively brief career there, perhaps the best testimonial to Senator Obama’s understanding and appreciation of technology is the way his campaign has used to it mobilize support, collect record donations, create online volunteer opportunities and disseminate information. His appeal with young and tech savvy voters lies precisely in the way the campaign has used the most modern methods of communication.

Position( Highlights)

  • Ensure an open Internet. – supports net neutrality and diversification of media ownership.
  • Create a transparent and connected democracy.- Will open up government to the citizens and bring government into the 21st century using current technology.
  • Encourage a modern communications infrastructure.- believes we can get true broadband to every community in America
  • Improve America's competitiveness and commitment to science research.- supports doubling federal funding for basic research over ten years, changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology.
  • Prepare all of our children for a 21st century economy. – wants to make math and science education a national priority.
  • Employ science and technology to solve our nation's most pressing problems.


  • Barack Obama and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) teamed up to pass a law that will lift the veil of secrecy in Washington by creating a Google-like search engine that will allow ordinary Americans to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks, and loans online.
  • In the U.S. Senate, Obama passed three amendments to the America COMPETES Act, which is now law, to increase participation of women and underrepresented minorities in the professions of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; offer competitive state grants to support summer term education programs to help students develop skills in math and problem solving; and establish a mentoring program for women and minorities as they advance in those fields.
  • Is a co-sponsor of Connect The Nation Act, to encourage the rapid deployment of high-quality, affordable broadband internet service, especially in rural areas.
  • Is a co-sponsor of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, that amends the Communications Act of 1934 to establish certain Internet neutrality duties for broadband service providers (providers).

On net neutrality-“ I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality. The Internet is the most open network in history. We have to keep it that way.” November, 2007.

John McCain


  • Will keep capital gains tax low.
  • Will reform and make permanent the R&D tax credit.
  • Will lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent to retain investment in U.S. technologies.
  • Will Allow First-Year Expensing Of New Equipment And Technology.
  • Does not believe in net neutrality.
  • Will pursue high-speed internet access for all Americans.


  • Voted against the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which provided the foundation for much of the cell phone and Internet regulation over the next decade.  The bill passed 81-18 and was signed into law by President Clinton. 
  • In 2002, McCain authored the "Consumer Broadband Deregulation Act of 2002" which eliminated the requirement of the 1996 law that telecommunication companies provide access to competitors.  It didn't pass.
  •  McCain co-authored the CAN-SPAM Act in 2003 to regulate the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mail ("spam") to consumers and enable them to opt out of receiving such email.
  • McCain authored the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online (SAFE) Act to enhance reporting of online child pornography.( 2005)


On using the internet – “Not nearly as well as I should. My wife Cindy is a whiz. And when I want to find out what’s on CNN, or The NY Times, or other communist periodicals, I always go to it.” 2000.
On net neutrality – there should be as little government regulation of broadband as possible. The market should be allowed to solve the Net-neutrality issue: “When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment."May 2007.
On his qualifications in technology leadership –“I am uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution. While in the Navy, I depended upon the technologies and information provided by our nation’s scientists and engineers with during each mission.” September 2008


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