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Congressmen Rated On Tech-Friendliness 270

Uncle Dick writes "CNET has released the results of a study ranking every US Representative and Senator on a scale rating their relative friendliness towards various technology and internet related issues. Republicans and Democrats fare similarly in both houses of Congress, although CNET gives the edge to the GOP. Big Winner? Ron Paul (R-TX). 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry (D-MA) does not fare so well."
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Congressmen Rated On Tech-Friendliness

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  • Ron Paul (Score:4, Informative)

    by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @06:57AM (#16701105)
    What a go, Ron Paul.

    For those who don't realize it, Ron Paul ran for President once as the Libertarian Candidate.
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
      And there are many of us who hope he damn well does it again. He's the most sensible politician out there right now. Pragmatic, you might say.

      - Sees technology as beneficial when well employed. Fosters it as a result and doesn't push hindering legislation (eg internet tax).
      - Sees that guns don't cause crime, people do. Doesn't support gun bans or legislations which simply keep guns out of the hands of upstanding citizens.
      - Sees that there is a fundamental issue with immigration more essential than Mexicans
      • I don't think in terms of left and right. It doesn't do justice to the wide variety of possible viewpoints. Economic? Social? Personal liberty? I tend to be on very divergent points on the scale that could put me anywhere from libertarian, communist, anarchist and even fascist, depending on your point of view and the topic at hand.

        For what it's worth, I think that guy is right.
        • I don't think in terms of left and right.

          You're not the only one. You should take the World's Smallest Political Quiz" [theadvocates.org] and see where you show up. Libertarians on the balance tend to be very pro-tech/tech-savvy. It would be interesting to see how congressional candidates (not just elected officials) would end up. I'm betting it would be Libertarians in a landslide.
          • Thanks for the link, turned out I was a liberal huddling in the corner next to warm centrist and somewhat autistic libetarian(jk). I think Ron Paul sounds like a bit of a nutter but kudos for the tech score (assuming I agree with the method that I didn't read). BTW over here in Australia the conservatives are the "Liberal Party", however the sites definition of "liberal" sits with me just fine thankyou :)

            From the GP's link:
            LIBERALS usually embrace freedom of choice in personal matters, but ten
            • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) *
              Whats really funny is, I can't even tell what conservative means anymore, except that its what republicans like to call themselves. In fact, both conservative and liberal have completly lost their meaning.

              Lets see if I can remember how it goes. The Libertarians are the classic liberals. The modern liberals, are the defacto conservatives. The conservatives aren't at all conservative. The neocons are liberals with a socialist background who decided they wanted to call themselves conservative.

              Personally... I a
          • by Progoth ( 98669 )
            While I'll be voting Libertarian come next presidential election, I always find that particular quiz a bit unfair... Most people who take it end up Libertarian, and, funnily enough, the Advocates for Self Government is a Libertarian organization.
      • by rm999 ( 775449 )
        He looks pretty conservative to me:

        -Opposes abortion
        -Against gay marriage (this automatically should get him kicked out of the liberterian party IMO)
        -For the electoral college (this is not conservative per se, but it is certainly not liberterian where one vote should count the same as every other)

        I agree he is pretty liberterian, but the last thing I want is a social conservative after the Orwellian years of Bush. Liberals can lean liberterian too (I consider myself both)
        • Like anyone, he must choose his battles. The stand on abortion and gay marriage aligns him with the Republican Party line. Must line up with them somewhere if he's going to diverge on issues he considers important. That's the unpleasant truth of politics in a two party system. Unlike so many career politicians, he actually ran with a thrid party, lost, and managed to get back on board with the Republicans. So, he has his place in the legislature as a Republican with Libertarian leanings, which I suppos
      • Ron Paul is good on a lot of things, but then he's also one of these Libertarians who latched on to an unfortunate idiotic attribute of Objectivism, The Gold Standard. [house.gov]

        That's right, he wants to tie our currency's value to an international commodity's price. He complains about how 1-2% annual inflation has been devaluing our savings, failing to note that, had we been on a gold standard, the money supply would have experienced 50% deflation in five years, matching the 1929-1933 10% annual deflation that cau
        • That's right, he wants to tie our currency's value to an international commodity's price. He complains about how 1-2% annual inflation has been devaluing our savings, failing to note that, had we been on a gold standard, the money supply would have experienced 50% deflation in five years, matching the 1929-1933 10% annual deflation that caused the Great Depression. Wouldn't that be a great way to stabilize the currency?

          Where do people get this stuff? Neither deflation nor the gold standard caused the Gr

          • "Where do people get this stuff?

            Oh, you know, no where in particular. It's not like Milton Friedman won a nobel prize for it or anything. It's not like that's how they teach Economic History at, say, MIT and the University of Chicago. It's not like your own response refuting this also advances the same claim:

            "It is interesting to note that during the Depression real wage rates generally increased due to the fact that prices of goods fell more quickly than monetary wages; this seems to be a general tren
      • I'm pretty damn far to "the left" (whatever that means) and I'd vote for Ron Paul for just about any office he'd run for. I agree with his views that the federal government should be greatly reduced, his opposition to the Iraqi war, his pro-gun views, etc. Of course, he's dead wrong on birthright citizenship and the estate tax, but he's right on enough to make me enthusiastic to support him.
    • by griffjon ( 14945 )
      To be fair, Ron Paul votes against everything [washingtonpost.com]. He's really a libertarian in Republican clothing, which is fine, we need more of them to balance out the neocon and religious right types.
  • from what i understood from this article, this survey appears to be monumentally biased. it seems to believe that all "tech people" have the same politics, which is horribly, horribly false. For example, the article scored politicians based on their views of H1b visas and export restrictions. How, exaclty, voting one way or another makes a lawmaker "tech friendly" is unclear to me. Those issues are about immigration, trade, and security policy (or some mixture thereof), NOT technology. There's not a si
    • i am basically for stronger enforcement of copyright laws.. does this make me 'anti-tech' or 'pro-tech' in this survey view?

      I don't know but it certainly dooms your slashdot karma. ;)

      Seriously, there does seem to be a flaw here - does "Tech friendly" mean "Hacker friendly", or "Big Technology Business Friendly" ?
    • [F]rom what [I] understood from this article, this survey appears to be monumentally biased. [I}t seems to believe that all "tech people" have the same politics . . .

      I don't think the survey is intended to reflect opinions of tech people. From TFA:

      Internet policy, others covered computer export restrictions, H-1B visas, free trade, research and development, electronic passports and class action lawsuits.

      From these issues, by "tech friendly", the survey means "friendly to big corporations involved in t

  • Read the fine print. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stomv ( 80392 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @07:38AM (#16701235) Homepage
    Consider the Senate Methodology [com.com]

    3. Prohibit Internet gambling. This isn't really a tech vote. This is a moral socio-economic vote. c|net wanted Senators to vote to allow (not to prohibit) Internet gambling... because it's on the Internet?!

    5. Increasing paperwork for Internet Sellers. What's the amendment that c|net wanted a no vote against? "To require persons selling tangible personal property via the Internet to disclose to purchasers that they may be subject to State and local sales and use taxes on the purchases." That's it. Simply inform the buyer that he or she may have to pay taxes in other districts. You see, when you buy in meatspace, this part of the transaction is automagic. Not so in virtual space. Again, I don't see it as being a major technological issue vote.

    11. Free Trade Bill. No, seriously. If you voted for free trade, you demonstrated your prowess as a technologist? Give me a freaking break.

    12. Over-ruling state anti-SPAM with the CAN-SPAM. Now, you might not think that the legislation is tough enough, but I think it is fair to say that the pro-technology approach to Internet regulation is to not have 50 different sets of regulations within the United States.

    16. For curbs on class-action lawsuits. Again, WTF? This isn't a technology issue per se. This is a judicial process issue. To put it in this list is asinine.

    But, what wasn't on this list?
      * Judicial approvals
      * Regulatory approvals (think FCC, et al)
      * Committee membership
      * Interaction with lobbyists and money acceptance from PACs.

    It's a dumb list, at least on the Senate side. I didn't even bother to check out the House side.
    • Its not a dumb list its a conservative wish list. Toss banning of gay marriage on there and you have most of the gop platform. Shows you what cnet thinks of "technologists."
    • Yeah, I have to agree that this is really a rather simple-minded list that's mostly an anti-regulation screed. For example, they apparently wanted candidates to leave anti-spam laws at the state level. But for any company that operates in multiple states, this is often far worse than a single federal statute, as the effort to comply with numerous, potentially conflicting state laws is far greater than a uniform federal statute. Think of Sun's push for uniform regulation on disposal of e-waste. Their sta
    • Regarding Internet gambling, I would guess the idea is whether Congressmen are intelligent enough to realize that the Internet is a global entity and that the US cannot legislate the content of sites operated in foreign states, and that, in general, the Internet is a new beast that no one country can really control which requires a new way of looking at things.
    • >3. Prohibit Internet gambling. This isn't really a tech vote. This is a moral socio-economic vote. c|net wanted Senators to vote to allow (not to prohibit) Internet gambling... because it's on the Internet?!

      Offline gambling is legal. Banning online gambling is discriminatory. I suspect that was c|net's reasoning.
    • It's a dumb list, at least on the Senate side. I didn't even bother to check out the House side.

      Yeah, it's another dumb list, because CNet commits the error of confusing an enabling technology with the activities that it enables. Gambling is a dumb thing that adults are allowed to enjoy, internet gambling just gives adults another way to access this activity. Gambling activities are best covered by amending or writing gambling laws, not technology laws. Same for most other online activities. The signif
  • So the next question is... is it better to have a politician in power who understands technology and so can merrily and effectively have the government muck technology up, or is it better to have a technological idiot try in futility to put technology under the control of the government but risk breaking things by accident?

    Or, to put it another way:

    Would you rather be robbed by a guy armed with a gun that knows how to use it and expertly aim it, or an idiot with a gun who doesn't realize that pulling the tr
    • by Guuge ( 719028 )
      This article has nothing to do with understanding technology. It's about "tech-friendliness", which is essentially loyalty to certain lobbyists deemed to represent "technology". A congressperson can get a perfect score without knowing anything at all about technology.
  • OK so in North Carolina here are the big issues:

    Funding for eVoting. Check
    Funding to track every sex offender real time, 24/7 everywhere on Earth forever and ever. Check

    We're good to go.
  • Senator Allen (R-VA) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caudron ( 466327 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @08:26AM (#16701451) Homepage
    Also unsurprising was George Allen, a first-term Virginia Republican who won the top score in the Senate, at 78 percent, after becoming chairman of the Senate High Tech Task Force five years ago.

    Those of us from Virginia aren't surprised either. Senator Allen used to be our Governor where he spent consider energy and resources courting high tech companies and trying to bring legislation to the table that made us an attractive option for technology companies in search of a headquarters. As Governor, his approval rating was pretty damn high.

    That said, as a Senator, he has not fared so well in the polls. He may be friendly to technology interests (apparently 78% friendly?) which is expected given his history on the subject, but he's even friendly to President Bush (apparently 96% friendly?) and that doesn't sit well with a nation or a state that isn't interested in more of the same right now.

    I guess what I'm driving at here is that while our pet interest might be in technology, we can't let that drive our vote. It's an important issue category, but it's only one of many and on many other counts these people may be doing quite a poor job. I'd argue that voting so closely with President Bush's interests (seriously 96% is A LOT!) shows me that a great governor does not necessarily make a good senator. I suspect he is just courting the RNC because there has been talk of him being a serious presidential contender in the near future. I know you have to sell a little of your soul to get anywhere in politics nowadays, but I can't in good conscience vote for someone who does it so thoroughly and so blatantly...even if he is good on technology.

    Tom Caudron
    http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]
    • I'd argue that voting so closely with President Bush's interests (seriously 96% is A LOT!) shows me that a great governor does not necessarily make a good senator.

      What I'm getting from your statement is that you don't like Bush, and because Allen voted with Bush so much, you therefore don't like Allen. That doesn't make him a bad senator; that makes him a senator whose votes you don't like.

      I really liked Allen as governor, I thought he did an amazing job with Virginia's economy. I don't have serious issue
      • by caudron ( 466327 )
        I'd say that's a fair assessment of my post. Actually, I do have some problems with him as a Senator (and I also liked him as Governor) that aren't just related to him strong allegiance to the current president, but I didn't want to get too far into Va politics in this thread.

        He's made some decisions as senator that I vehemently disagree with. I'm not exactly excited about Webb (who is?) but I think he'll be marginally better than what we have now. I wish I could be more positive about our senatorial cho
        • I'm not exactly excited about Webb (who is?) but I think he'll be marginally better than what we have now. I wish I could be more positive about our senatorial choices this year.

          I'm not so sure. Not from a lack of trying, but I don't know a lot about Webb. His website is horrid, giving sound bites instead of clear and concise visions of what he will and won't vote for. The bits that he does have statements about, favoring windfall taxes on oil company profits for instance, are exactly what I *don't* want
    • No, seriously.

      I wrote to him a few years ago about the SSSCA (acronym misspell?), and he write back a polite letter to the effect of "screw you, my consultants say I should vote for it," but thank you for your letter.

      Nice. He has absolutely no concept of the consumer side of IP rights, and would mandate DRM and outlaw fair use if he even got a whiff of a chance.

      Yes, I'm voting for Jim Webb. He can't be any worse.
      • No wonder he scored so well. If you check his detail, he didn't even vote on 7 of the 16 bills they used to classify the members.
  • These report cards that measure the quality of legislators based on their floor votes really don't give the big picture and don't really mean much.

    First, it assumes that each bill can be rated as either 'good' or 'bad' in some key respect. This is an extremely subjective position and with the low number of tech bills that regularly go through the congress it is hard to say.

    Second, it assumes that the legislation is single-issue. The legislative process is one of compromise. Something which may be a fant

    • by hey! ( 33014 )
      You also missed the biggest assumption: that you agree completely with the person doing the rating.

      If the Electronic Privacy Association, the Electronic Fronteir Foundation and the RIAA were to rate congressmen on their "tech friendlieness", they'd each come up with different rankings.

  • I guess he learned a lot from the "macacas" he welcomed to the real word of Virginia.
  • This is from the article:

    While many of the scored votes centered on Internet policy, others covered computer export restrictions, H-1B visas, free trade, research and development, electronic passports and class action lawsuits.

    The article is lean on the science and heavy on the fluff, but apparently their methodology involved assuming what they believed to be the technology-friendly stance on each of these issues, and then scoring Congress according to whether or not a member voted for a bill that supported

  • Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), is somehow ranked at 53.3% according to this article.

    This has to be flawed -- the man got quoted as saying this in a debate:

    Ten movies streaming across that, that internet, and what happens to your own personal internet? I just the other day got...an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump somet

    • by Yosho ( 135835 )
      "Think about how stupid the average (American, Person, Senator, ___) is. By definition, half of them are more stupid than that."

      That is not necessarily true, actually. It would be true if you said "mean" instead of "average" and "equally or more stupid than" instead of "more stupid than." However it's entirely possible for the average value of a set to not fall at the halfway mark. For example, take these values:
      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 100000

      The average value is about 11,115. That means that only one of those
      • Heh. See, I try to end on a light joke...

        I think that the statement would be true, if I'd prepended, "Assuming a normal distribution," which the human population is. Arguing that the Senate is "normal" is a separate matter. :-)
      • by cnettel ( 836611 )
        However, IQ is a rather accepted method to quantify intelligence, and some definitions of IQ contain the normal distribution as a totally inherent part of the definition. If we wouldn't get a normal distribution in the end, for the complete population, then the test is not calibrated correctly.
      • http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/average [m-w.com]

        Average can be the mean, mode or median, from definition 1a:
        a single value (as a mean, mode, or median) that summarizes or represents the general significance of a set of unequal values
        And probably an even better definition is 2b:
        a level (as of intelligence) typical of a group, class, or series

  • by jfruhlinger ( 470035 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @10:11AM (#16702169) Homepage
    Apparently they aren't ranked?
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @10:47AM (#16702625) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, Congress' tendency to shy away from recorded votes means that some important events were not available to score.

    And many other ways in which Congress games the system to make laws and influence policies also make such an oversimplified rating as this one nearly useless.

    Did the raters rate those 20 bills on which Congress voted on overall "tech-friendliness"? Does voting against a tech-unfriendly bill score the same as voting for tech-friendly ones? Should it, if one is much more un/friendly? How many unfriendly votes can't be counted, and how much worse are they?

    How many tech-friendly bills couldn't be voted on because the majority party prevented the vote from even getting to the floor? The raters didn't rate the committees, all of which are controlled by even a bare majority party, but where practically all of the bills are killed or pushed to a floor vote.

    And who's so sure that "H1B visas" and other issues are "tech-friendly", and not just "tech corporation friendly", working against the interests of American tech workers, consumers, and perhaps the technology itself?

    20 votes across over a decade, to determine a career's rating? Where's CNet's history of producing political ratings, to get some kind of track record for accuracy and insight?

    The Tech Law Journal published a scorecard for the 1998 Congress [techlawjournal.com], part of their central mission to cover these issues. I'd be interested in an IEEE or ACM scorecard, but not so much in a Communication Workers of America or American Association of Manufacturers scorecard, unless some wizard could somehow combine them in a model that was simple enough for most people to understand and agree. Impossible, really.
    • Well, as long as outsourcing is cheap, one could make the case that H1Bs help the American middle class. H1Bs drain foreign countries from talent, and move it to the US, where they have to compete in more equal terms with Americans. Also, they pay taxes that, unless they are naturalized, will probably never get the rewards from. And if they managed to get naturalized, they become as American as you are... except for being able to run for presidency. If you want to help the American middle class, fight the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        Except that H1B (formerly known as a "person") in the next cube may be working for a lot less money than you are, because they return to their home country where their expenses are a lot lower than yours. Which country is cheap because it's polluted, domestic labor is abused and working for even less than the H1B does in America.

        Foreign labor from many countries unfairly competes against American labor with lower labor costs subsidized by foreign conditions not required to be as good or expensive as in Amer
  • CNET wasn't clear on what they meant by "technology issues" which makes this article seem inconsistent, and makes the reactions very mixed.

    For one thing, it includes lots of non-technology things. If you say H1-B visas are a technology issue because they impact technology companies, then EVERYTHING is a technology issue. Taxes, minimum wage, anything with financial impact. Perhaps CNET did not have a clear idea of what they wanted the purpose of the article to be. THese votes don't indicate how technolo
  • So when are we going to see our elected representatives put up blogs and discussion forums for their constituencies?
  • The most libertarian member of Congress remains most libertarian when only considering tech issues. Who would have thunk it?
  • Is it just me, or... where's the freaking list?

    I'd much rather just read the list myself than to read some long winded article about it.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @11:26AM (#16703145) Journal
    How can you not put Boucher near the top of the list of Tech Friendly congressmen? He is consistently one of the few who "get it" and manage to vote for what aids the consumer instead of the corporation.

    They included votes on Free Trade and Class Action Law Suits, but not Net Neutrality? No wonder the R's scored higher than the D's on that one. Good grief - if you're going to score on a subject, at least limit the scope to the subject at hand.
    • by sheldon ( 2322 )
      He is consistently one of the few who "get it" and manage to vote for what aids the consumer instead of the corporation.

      "tech friendly" means benefiting tech companies, dummy.
  • Where would internet inventor Al Gore rank? And the old guy who knows all about the tubes? If they are near the top, what does that mean for the rest?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Quila ( 201335 )
      Where would internet inventor Al Gore rank?

      Probably not well. While he did push for funding for what became the Internet, he was also big on preventing the people from using encryption unless the government had a key for it too.
  • Ironically, the website of the most tech. friendly Rep. Ron Paul (14th Dist. TX) [according to CNET], doesn't work with OS X?

    I'm using Firefox on OS X and I'm just trying to click the giant PLAY button on his site.

    Sheesh, what happened to standards?

  • What a crock... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zwack ( 27039 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @12:41PM (#16704167) Homepage Journal
    Looking at Oregon (the state I know most about for obvious reasons) they rate Gordon Smith (R) at 50% and Ron Wyden (D) at 43%.

    Gordon Smith has voted in committee against Net Neutrality. Ron Wyden has continually voiced his support for it. Now there isn't a specific vote they could use to quantify that for all senators, but what is wrong with including such an important issue on their list?

    This list is as meaningless as a random number generator.

  • Well I know Mark Foley knows how to use msn, obviously he's never heard of OTR [maf54.org] though.
  • "The methodology behind this scorecard is cuckoo for cocoa puffs," Kerry spokesman David Wade said.

    That about sums it up.

    Seriously, Rep Boucher, the House's paragon of Internet consumer rights issues scored a "50%".
  • Go figure, Dave Reichert http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Reichert [wikipedia.org] who represents Redmond and the suburbs east of Seattle, where many 'softies live, scored near the very bottom at 14.29% Come on Microsoft, get out and vote this troglogyte out. A former Microsoft Lead Product Manager, Darcey Burner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darcy_Burner [wikipedia.org], who worked on the .NET Framework is running against him. Should be interesting.
  • While this is interesting, it sounds like this is more pro-tehnology, then tech friendliness or technology understanding. Why isn't Maria Cantwell 100 percent? She worked for Real Networks so she know technology = good. The simple fact is just because a bill supports technology doesn't mean it's a good bill.

    Then they take 20 votes? Are these really the best 20, especially when the top candidates only voted in around half of them in the senate? Or are these the top 20 that Cnet agrees with? The methodo
  • Ron Paul's essays (Score:3, Informative)

    by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @02:59AM (#16713623)
    Ron Paul has written an extensive collection of editorials and essays which can be found at his archive [lewrockwell.com] at lewrockwell.com. He's the one politician I actually respect, and typically reasons and expresses his viewpoints extremely well. The above link includes articles covering everything from technology, to economics, to freedom. Highly recommended reading.

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