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This article was published on September 4, 2012

The 2012 Democratic platform: Internet good; Republicans, IP theft bad

The 2012 Democratic platform: Internet good; Republicans, IP theft bad
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Last week TNW brought you the technology-related passages from the 2012 Republican platform, parsing them for truth and potential impact. We promised to repeat the task when the Democratic party released their own manifest. They now have, and TNW has you covered.

Given that you would rather crawl military-style over an unclean San Francisco sidewalk than read a party’s platform, consider this a public service. To recap, the Republican platform was boiled down to the following: Internet good, FCC and Net Neutrality bad. As the title of this post states, you can summarize the Democratic platform’s view on technology in a similar fashion: Internet good; Republicans, IP theft bad.

The following excerpts are not in their original order, and have been formatted, excised, and bolded by TNW. For the fully skinny, head here. Let’s go!

Education and Immigration

The [current] President also proposed to double key investments in science to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, encourage private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade. And to make this country a destination for global talent and ingenuity, we won’t deport deserving young people who are Americans in every way but on paper, and we will work to make it possible for foreign students earning advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to stay and help create jobs here at home.

TNW: If this means that the Democratic party is going to come out in favor of the Startup Visa Act, and support a huge increase in the number of visas for skilled talent, then good on them. However, the paragraph is vague, making it hard to derive any policy direction that can be trusted. Good words, but we want specifics and action.

Startups, Small Business, and Taxes:

To pay for their trillions in additional tax cuts weighted towards millionaires and billionaires, [the Republicans] raise taxes on the middle class and gut our investments in education, research and technology, and new roads, bridges, and airports.

[The current President] encouraged investment and supported start-ups by allowing businesses to write off the full cost of new equipment and machinery they bought in 2011.

TNW: What the first bit says is that to support lowering tax rates while not expanding the current deficit run-rate, a Republican promise, other programs must be cut. And as as a cut in defense spending is anathema to the GOP, other things such as non-military research funding will have to go. That would be, obviously, a negative for the technology industry. The Romney/Ryan ticket hasn’t laid out what they will cut, so it’s hard to say, if Romney then less research, but it’s also difficult to believe that under their plan, technology research funding will be fully left intact.

The second paragraph refers to tax law that encouraged investment. This impacted startups in a sense, but not too much, and it’s not a continuing thing, making it more ‘look what we did,’ than ‘here’s where we are going.’

Intellectual Property:

The administration is vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual property – our technology and creativity – at home and abroad through better enforcement and innovative approaches such as voluntary efforts by all parties to minimize  infringement while supporting the free flow of information. Customs seizures of counterfeit drugs are up 600 percent and seizures of fake consumer safety and critical technology have increased nearly 200 percent; the Department of Justice has aggressively prosecuted the illegal overseas transfer of trade secrets. As technology advances, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect the security of the nation and its knowledge assets, U.S. intellectual property, the functioning of fair and competitive markets, and the privacy, free expression, and due process rights of Americans.

TNW: Again, this is light on policy, but it trends in the right direction. Intellectual property theft is a real issue, and a costly one. The current administration was involved in the failed attempt in the Senate to pass cybersecurity legislation, and opposed both SOPA and CISPA. It also promised to veto CISPA, a now moot point, at least until 2013.

However, the platform here says little more than that the Obama administration doesn’t like piracy, and will oppose it.

Technological Infrastructure:

Democrats know that the United States must preserve our leadership in the Internet economy. We will ensure that America has a 21st century digital infrastructure – robust wired and wireless broadband capability, a smarter electrical grid, and upgraded information technology infrastructure in key sectors such as health care and education. President Obama has committed to ensuring that 98 percent of the country has access to high-speed wireless broadband Internet access. We are finding innovative ways to free up wireless spectrum and are building a state-of-the-art nationwide, interoperable, public safety network. President Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice, and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations of privacy.

TNW: The elephant in this paragraph is net neutrality, which is not mentioned, leaving us with a paean to ‘free speech’ that is ‘unfettered by censorship.’ Republicans, though on the wrong side of the issue, had sharp words:

[‘The current administration] through the FCC’s net neutrality rule, is trying to micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network.

The 98% figure is a good one. For more on how that number might be reached, head here. Also, hitting on the spectrum point directly responds to another Republican firing point:

We call for an inventory of federal agency spectrum to determine the surplus that could be auctioned for the taxpayers’ benefit.

Taken all together, what the Democrats are saying here is good – who doesn’t want a better electrical grid? – but doesn’t explain why in their next term in the Oval they will execute on these things that they didn’t manage to get to in their first.

Internet Policy:

[T]he administration launched the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and encouraged innovative solutions such as a Do Not Track option for consumers.

TNW: Both were good moves, not only helping move the discussion forward and protecting consumers, but also showing that the administration is up to date on what issues are the important ones in the realm of technology.


Out-Innovating the Rest of the World. Democrats support a world-class commitment to science and research so that the next generation of innovators and high-technology manufacturing companies thrive in America. President Obama signed into law changes to help entrepreneurs raise capital and create jobs.

We will give our businesses access to newer roads and airports, and faster railroads and Internet access.

TNW: Blah, blah, roughly.

Internet Freedom:

The Obama administration has led the world to recognize and defend Internet freedom – the freedom of expression, assembly, and association online for people everywhere – through coalitions of countries and by empowering individuals with innovative technologies. The administration has built partnerships to support an Internet that is secure and reliable and that is respectful of U.S. intellectual property, free flow of information, and privacy. To preserve the Internet as a platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation in the 21st century, we successfully negotiated international Internet policymaking principles, support the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and oppose the extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet.

TNW: The Democrats do well here, stating that Internet freedom should be global (universal?), and that the free flow of information is something key. Its comments on a ‘multi-stakeholder approach’ I take as a note that handing the Internet’s management over to the United Nations is 1. A terrible idea, and 2. One that the United States shouldn’t agree to. Here the two parties are in line.

Critically missing: the word ‘startup’ from the entire document.

That’s our take. The entire platform is 70 pages long, so we had to be brief (ha). For the source, hit this link.

Top Image Credit: Nathan Forget

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