The Bush campaign’s Web site does not include a similar page on tech policy, and the Bush campaign did not return a request for an interview on the topic. But the president has taken several IT-related initiatives in his three-plus years in office; most recently, he signed CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) into law, and in February 2003, the White House released a set of cybersecurity recommendations, although the document included no mandates for private companies.
Bush has also increased the government’s spending on IT, from $45 billion in fiscal year 2002 to a 2005 budget request of $59.8 billion.
Other technology-related issues have the potential to rise to the presidential level, depending on the events of the next seven-plus months. A major attack on the Internet could push cybersecurity onto the presidential debate radar, especially if there is any connection to terrorists, American University’s Holtzman said. “I don’t think any of these [candidates] react until what I call a watershed event,” he added.
The USA Patriot Act, which gives law enforcement officials easier access to private information on the Web, could also become a major issue. Kerry has criticized the Patriot Act for too broadly allowing access to private information, and if any evidence of abuse happens before the November election, expect more debate, Holtzman said.
Georgia Tech’s DeMillo noted that support for math and science education remains an important issue among technology companies and universities, but the presidential candidates have not yet distinguished themselves on the topic. “The discussion right now is at such a high level of abstraction; it’s hard to tell what the issues are,” he said.
Beyond outsourcing, technology will be woven into the presidential debate over the economy, added Craig Ullman, partner at NetworkedPolitics.com, which has developed Web sites for the Kerry campaign. “Any government plan that involves stimulating the economy is going to involve the tech sector,” he said.
Other issues, including access to broadband and e-voting, may not make it to the level of presidential debate this year but could become major political issues as soon as 2006, Ullman predicted. “Although tech issues are supporting issues in this election, four to eight years ago they weren’t even on the map,” he said. “Four to eight years from now, they will be extremely important.”