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11/14/2007
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Candidate Obama Unveils Tech Policy Plans

The detailed plan calls for diverse media ownership, patent reform, safeguards for privacy rights, and protecting children while preserving the First Amendment, among other positions.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama unveiled a nine-page technology policy plan Wednesday.

In his comprehensive technology and innovation plan(PDF), the Democratic candidate strongly supports network neutrality.

The plan says that Obama supports diverse media ownership, patent reform, safeguards for privacy rights, protecting children while preserving the First Amendment, and using technology for a more open and effective government, as well as a more competitive nation.

Obama said he will support expansion and improvements to communications and IT infrastructure, protection of intellectual property, and make R&D tax credits permanent. The plan said Obama doesn't think network providers should be allowed to charge fees to improve delivery of content or applications.

"Users must be free to access content, to use applications, and to attach personal devices," Obama said in the plan, released by his campaign. "They have a right to receive accurate and honest information about service plans. But these guarantees aren't enough to prevent network providers from discriminating in ways that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet."

Obama promised to encourage improvements to voluntary ratings, exploiting new technologies such as tagging and filtering, with Common Sense Media as a model for its "sanity, not censorship" approach. He said he will encourage industry to avoid airing adult ads with children's programming.

The Obama technology plan says that advanced computing power, decreased storage costs, and huge flows of information create risk as well as benefits. It promises to create privacy protections and harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.

Obama supports updating surveillance laws and restrictions on how information may be used, as well as technology solutions to track and verify how the information actually has been used. He said he will increase protection of e-health records and location data, while boosting funds for tracking down and punishing distributors of spam, spyware, phishing scams, and telemarketing intrusions.

Obama promised to give the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office resources to improve patent quality and open the application process to citizen review. He proposed having the USPTO offer applicants "who know they have significant inventions the option of a rigorous and public peer review that would produce a "gold-plated" patent much less vulnerable to court challenge."

Obama's stance on intellectual property is a bit more vague. He said he will foster more cooperation on international standards that allow U.S. technologies to compete globally, while supporting copyright reform and civic discourse at home.

The wide-ranging plan covers a host of other political issues as well, saying Obama will support the use of technology to improve health care, protect the environment, and ensure competition through changes to immigration, promotion of U.S. businesses abroad, and increased investments in the fields of science and technology.

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