Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama on Technology and Innovation

The Democratic National Convention starts today so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Barack Obama's communications and Internet policies. Obama has a comprehensive technology and innovation plan posted on his website -the nine page document is titled BARACK OBAMA: CONNECTING AND EMPOWERING ALL AMERICANS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION. He lists 5 key points with detail:

1. Ensure the full and free exchange of information among Americans through an open Internet and diverse media outlets:
  • Protect the Openness of the Internet.
  • Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership
  • Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment
  • Safeguard our Right to Privacy
2. Create a transparent and connected democracy:
  • Open Up Government to its Citizens
  • Bring Government into the 21st Century
3. Encourage the deployment of a modern communications infrastructure:
  • Deploy Next-Generation Broadband
4. Employ technology and innovation to solve our nation’s most pressing problems, including reducing the costs of health care, encouraging the development of new clean energy sources, and improving public safety.
  • Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems
  • Invest in Climate-Friendly Energy Development and Deployment
  • Upgrade Education to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century
  • Create New Jobs
  • Modernize Public Safety Networks
5. Improve America’s competitiveness.
  • Invest in the Sciences
  • Make the R&D Tax Credit Permanent
  • Reform Immigration
  • Promote American Businesses Abroad
  • Ensure Competitive Markets
  • Protect American Intellectual Property Abroad
  • Protect Intellectual Property at Home
  • Reform the Patent System
I found parts and pieces of the last three especially interesting. Let's look at some detail for #3 - Encouraging the deployment of a modern communications infrastructure. Specifically, Obama proposes the following policies to restore America’s world leadership in this arena:

Redefine “broadband:” Current Federal Communications Commission broadband definitions distort federal policy and hamstrings efforts to broaden broadband access. Obama will define “broadband” for purposes of national policy at speeds demanded by 21st century business and communications.

Universal Service Reform: Obama will establish a multi-year plan with a date certain to change the Universal Service Fund program from one that supports voice communications to one that supports affordable broadband, with a specific focus on reaching previously un-served communities.

Unleashing the Wireless Spectrum: Obama will confront the entrenched Washington interests that have kept our public airwaves from being maximized for the public’s interest. Obama will demand a review of existing uses of our wireless spectrum. He will create incentives for smarter, more efficient and more imaginative use of government spectrum and new standards for commercial spectrum to bring affordable broadband to rural communities that previously lacked it. He will ensure that we have enough spectrum for police, ambulances and other public safety purposes.

Bringing Broadband to our Schools, Libraries, Households and Hospitals: Obama will recommit America to ensuring that our schools, libraries, households and hospitals have access to next generation broadband networks. He will also make sure that there are adequate training and other supplementary resources to allow every school, library and hospital to take full advantage of the broadband connectivity.

Encourage Public/Private Partnerships: Obama will encourage innovation at the local level through federal support of public/private partnerships that deliver real broadband to communities that currently lack it.

C-SPAN recently ran an interview with Barack Obama policy advisor and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Bill Kennard who discusses Obama's telecommunications policy. You can watch the 31 minute interview here.

Last week John McCain issued his own 3,000 word technology policy statement - I'll take a look it in my next post.

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