Skip to Content

The Candidates on Technology

Find out where Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain stand on key technology issues.

Credit: Alastair Halliday

There is no question that each of the three candidates left in the 2008 presidential campaign realizes the importance that technology issues will play in the general election to come. Whether paying court at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, or answering detailed questionnaires from technology publications, each candidate has felt compelled to lay out a road map of where he or she plans to lead the country on these complex and sometimes controversial issues. Our interactive guide attempts to give readers a sense of where the candidates currently stand, and it points to key legislation that each candidate has introduced or voted on to see where he or she has stood in the past.

It is little surprise that the youngest candidate, Barack Obama, has the most detailed technology platform–no other candidate has vowed to crack down on phishing or spyware, for instance. Obama’s strong support for net neutrality and his ambitious proposal to increase broadband deployment nationwide have won him the endorsement of such tech luminaries as free-culture proponent Lawrence Lessig and Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen. But Silicon Valley votes alone will not win the presidency, and Obama’s support for corn ethanol and coal-to-liquid fuel subsidies, while popular in the Midwest, has caused some environmentalists to question his green credentials.

Obama’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, has also thrown her support behind corn ethanol as a key piece of her energy plan, despite opposition to federal subsidies earlier in her Senate career. She also joins Obama, as well as John McCain, in proposing a cap-and-trade program for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions to fight global warming, which every candidate agrees is a threat. Clinton supports net neutrality and promises to extend broadband service into underserved areas, while her proposed “Privacy Bill of Rights” seeks to establish a national consensus on privacy issues in the digital age.

John McCain, the Republican nominee, can sometimes seem uncomfortable fielding technology questions (when asked, “Mac or PC?”, McCain responded, “Illiterate”), but his long tenure on the Senate Commerce Committee has given him valuable knowledge of the industry’s inner workings. So it is not unfamiliarity with the issues but, instead, his avowed commitment to free-market principles that has led McCain to oppose net-neutrality legislation and further regulation of the telecommunications industry. Although McCain joins Clinton and Obama in promising to ease the restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research put in place by President Bush, his public statements on the issue have become increasingly cautious as he seeks to establish himself as a pro-life candidate. In recent interviews, he has held out hope that advances in reprogramming skin cells into embryonic stem cells will render the controversy moot.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.