If you care at all about technology, you must vote for Hillary Clinton.
Throughout the campaign, both candidates have done a pretty poor job
of explaining their tech policies, so you could be forgiven for assuming
neither one of them has one. (And no, the ability to wield social media
is not a tech position. It doesn’t represent tech policy. It’s just
Tech is what underpins our lives, our infrastructure and our
connection to the world. It takes more than an inspiring Instagram or a
taunting tweet to make the difficult policy decisions in order to ensure
that America remains a tech leader. Our next president will face a slew
of issues: the growth of artificial intelligence, robotics,
self-driving cars, data-mining for good without turning personal privacy
inside out and upending our economy.
These issues demand from our candidates a very certain kind of policy
information — the sort of policy information I’ve been looking for. So I
turned, as I have on occasion, to the candidates’ web sites. Here’s
what I found: Donald J. Trump doesn’t have a technology policy, per say.
Clinton has one that could best be described as the “kitchen-sink”
The SparkNotes version of Clinton’s plan can be found on her Technology and Innovation page.
It checks off all the right boxes, like “computer science and STEM”
support and attracting global talent to U.S. shores. Clinton promises to
expand broadband, defend Net Neutrality and promote cybersecurity. This
all sounds good, but there’s zero detail. Instead, visitors get an
unassuming link to a Fact Sheet that Clinton’s site calls “The Briefing,” which is amusing since there is nothing “brief” about Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology and Innovation.
In a word, it’s exhaustive.
The 6,800-plus word document was released late last June, though I
doubt many voters read it. It’s comprehensive, aggressive and
business-friendly. Clinton presents herself as a market-friendly
centrist who believes in a connected world; she seeks to strengthen
American technology interests, export our ideas and protect the sanctity
of the Internet (Net Neutrality). As such, the “brief” talks about
investment — a lot of it — in everything from computer science education
to tech workforce diversity.
Clinton wants to:
- Invest in small tech businesses and help defer loans for tech entrepreneurs.
- Encourage research and development on big ideas by easing tech transfer from laboratories to the marketplace.
- Expand broadband to rural communities and close the digital divide with, among other things, affordable broadband programs.
- Fix the patents system and make life harder for patent trolls (yes, she uses the word “trolls”).
Clinton addresses digital data privacy and security, devoting a small
section to security questions revolving around Internet of Things, and
it’s worth noting that she expressed these IoT concerns months before a
break of one such system resulted in massive Internet outages in the U.S.
I’m especially impressed with her cybersecurity plan, which is
neither over-reaching nor too vague to offer any kind of direction. This
line gives me hope that at least someone in Clinton’s campaign
understands what makes hackers tick:
She will encourage government agencies to consider
innovative tools like bug bounty programs, modeled on the Defense
Department’s recent “Hack the Pentagon” initiative, to encourage hackers
to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities they discover to the
Of course, some of the policy statements are lawyer-massaged mumbo jumbo:
Her policy approach to privacy will affirm strong
consumer protection values through effective regulatory enforcement in
an adaptive manner, encouraging high standards in industry without
But others are blessedly specific:
She will maintain support for other federal tech programs
— 18F, Innovation Fellows, and Innovation Labs—and look to them to
develop a coordinated approach to tackling pressing technology problems.
The point is, when it comes to technology, Clinton has a point of view. That’s a good start.
Let’s contrast that with what I found on Trump’s campaign site.
A search of his site turned up no specific “Technology” page, but Trump does devote an entire page to cybersecurity.
Its four main points are mostly about ordering or instructing the
Department of Justice and Defense apartment to create entities to
address this very real and growing threat. Plus, he advocates for the
creation of a Cyber Review team made up of military, law enforcement and
the private sector, which is encouraging.
Unfortunately, Trump’s plan is as thin as the pixels its written on.
Almost of third of his policy document is filled with links to media
stories about the cyber security issues America faces. Another third is
devoted to contrasting Trump’s position with Clinton’s.
And that’s it. No link to a lengthy treatise on a wider array of
tech-related questions. No real acknowledgment of the wide swath of
challenges America faces.
I get it. Trump’s whole campaign has been a warbling siren song about
“issues,” delivered loudly and in one note. But it should concern
everyone that Trump has no visible plan for the myriad tech issues that
face the country and the world. Clinton clearly does. She does not have a
solution for everything, nor does she have the billions of dollars to
fund the realization of some of her promises, but she has a tech plan
and a real position on innovation.
If you are looking for a tech-minded candidate, someone who is
thinking about the importance of R+D and has a global perspective on
tech brain power, a politician who may be able to assuage the concerns
of business by bolstering entrepreneurship through deregulation, that
choice, at least, is clear: Hillary Clinton.