Where the US presidential candidates stand on tech issues

US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama take different approaches to tech issues.

Competition in the wireless spectrum: Obama has called for a review of existing uses of the wireless spectrum, and he wants government agencies to come up with "smarter, more efficient and more imaginative use" of the spectrum they control.

McCain has long advocated and voted for putting more spectrum in the hands of mobile phone carriers and broadband providers. In recent years, he pushed for a nationwide voice and data network for public safety agencies and was a leading voice in the Senate in the effort to get television stations to give up part of their analog spectrum for use by police and fire departments.

National Security

Government surveillance: Both candidates voted for a recent bill to revamp the US government's surveillance programs and bring a controversial National Security Agency program under court oversight. However, Obama opposed the bill's language that would likely give telecom carriers immunity from lawsuits. McCain wanted congressional hearings before granting telecom immunity.

Privacy

McCain has co-authored several bills, including one in 2000 requiring Web sites to post privacy policies on their use of personal information. He was co-author of the CAN-SPAM Act, a 2003 law setting the rules for sending unsolicited commercial e-mail. He also pushed for rules to set standards for business' protection of personal data. "Americans will fully embrace new technologies...when they are confident that these new advances can be used safely," his Web site says.

Obama wants to restrict how databases containing personal information are used. He'd increase the Federal Trade Commission enforcement budget to fight spam, spyware, phishing and other cybercrime. Obama would also focus on ensuring that electronic health records are secure, his position paper says.

IT Jobs

Outsourcing: Obama wants to end tax breaks for companies that ship US jobs overseas. McCain opposes efforts to restrict US agencies from outsourcing some services.

Maths and science education: Both candidates have called for an increased focus on training US students and workers for 21st-century jobs. Both have called for programs that increase the number of students studying math and science. McCain wants more money for retraining US workers. Obama wants to improve US schools' curricula and supply schools with computers and broadband.

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Grant Gross

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