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Obama Significantly Revises Technology Positions 940

Posted by timothy
from the platitude-adjustment dept.
method9455 writes "Barack Obama has edited his official website on many issues, including a huge revision on the technology page. Strangely it seems net neutrality is no longer as important as it was a few months ago, and the swaths of detail have been removed and replaced with fairly vague rhetoric. Many technologists were alarmed with the choice of Joe Biden before, and now it appears their fears might have been well founded." Update: 09/22 18:07 GMT by T : Julian Sanchez of Ars Technica passed on a statement from an Obama campaign representative who points out that the changes in wording highlighted by Versionista aren't the whole story, and that more Obama tech-plan details are now available in a PDF, saying "there is absolutely no substantive change to our policy - folks who want more information can click to get our full plan."
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Obama Significantly Revises Technology Positions

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  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Monday September 22, 2008 @06:51AM (#25101603) Journal

    When are people going to learn to assess politicians and parties on their actions, rather than their promises? Those that might have really introduced change have already been weeded out. Vote for the puppet of your choice, folks.
    • by xulfer (1368787) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:09AM (#25101777)

      When are people going to learn to assess politicians and parties on their actions, rather than their promises? Those that might have really introduced change have already been weeded out. Vote for the puppet of your choice, folks.

      Many have. Obama's tech-related voting record is certainly better than most candidates that come to mind. He's voted against telecom immunity, and FISA fairly vehemently in the past. Perhaps the vague language is merely a way to package both Biden/Obama's views into a single declaration? It was probably just a way to describe both of their technological goals without smearing their respective stances. Should that be the case, it's still the top of the ticket that calls the shots.

      • by The AtomicPunk (450829) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:39AM (#25102399)

        Yay - rationalization that your "team" is okay, because, after all - they're your team.

        Please folks, there's no way you're voting for a democrat and republican and *really* thinking you're going to get change. They're all part of the same party, they're all buddies, and they all have roughly the same goals - take lots of your money, waste it, pass laws to control your life, invade other countries.

        The OP is correct, any candidate for change has already been eliminated (Ron Paul, Mike Gravel...)

        Vote third party. Any third party, for that matter.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:12AM (#25101801)

      The problem is that you can't vote on actions until after they've been taken.

      Personally, I'm in favour of a nice, simple system where if a politician makes a promise before an election and then breaks it, a court can remove him or her from office. I imagine we'd soon see some changes in the way manifestos were presented, and perhaps those who are not just puppets and actually intend to act according to their stated principles would get a bit more recognition since voting for someone based on their campaign pledges would actually mean something. Those who just say whatever the current audience wants to hear but never really promise anything would stand out by a mile.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:37AM (#25101949) Journal

        I've also proposed this kind of system before (i.e. that a manifesto should be a legally-binding contract with the voters), but I suspect that the result would be candidates putting such fluffy terms in their pledges that the courts would never be able to determine whether they'd actually broken them or not.

        Before New Labour (same as the old conservatives) came to power in the UK, they handed out 'pledge cards' with five election pledges on them. A very simple and powerful message. The Friday Night Armistice made a massive version of these, and each week in their first year crossed off the ones that they'd broken. It was depressing how quickly they all went away.

        Democracy requires an informed electorate to function just as capitalism requires informed consumers. The same level of truth in advertising laws should apply.

        • by gfxguy (98788) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:47AM (#25102013)

          The "Contract with America" worked really well in the '94 elections, though.

          Honestly, there are two reasons I can think of why politicians in the U.S. won't commit to anything:

          1. If lobbyists know they are committed for/against what they are lobbying for, they won't shower the politician with contributions and "gifts."

          2. Legislators often buy the votes of their colleagues by promising to vote for the colleague's legislation if their colleagues will vote for theirs.

          And then we need to keep one other thing in mind: riders. Legislation that gets ONE vote often contains extra pieces of legislation that has nothing to do with the original legislation. This is why I agree with notion that the president should have a line-item veto power, and I feel that way regardless who is in office.

          • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:58AM (#25102085) Journal

            This is why I agree with notion that the president should have a line-item veto power, and I feel that way regardless who is in office

            I disagree. We've already made the Executive Branch much more powerful than the Framers intended it to be. Signing statements, refusals to testify, appointments to un-elected Federal agencies that can impose laws (err, "regulations") on the citizenry, warfare without a declaration, international agreements that don't need to be ratified by the Senate, trade agreements that don't need input from Congress, blah, blah, blah, blah.

            You really want to make the Executive even more powerful? Are you nuts?

      • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Monday September 22, 2008 @09:54AM (#25103313) Journal
        Except reality is not that simple. Example: Politician 1 says he will vote for abc, but against xyz. Bill abc comes up for a vote. To kill it or to sneak xyz through, Politician 2 attaches rider xyz to it. Pol 1 is in an impossible situation.

        Also, there is no room here that I see for a politician to honestly change their mind for the better.
    • by Time_Warped (1266658) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:28AM (#25101897)
      Which is why I am voting 3rd party this election. I do not believe either major party candidate is worthy of my vote. Do I think the 3rd party types have any chance of winning? Not really, but if third party candidates took 20% or so of the vote away from major parties, it might force them to do a reality check.
      • by gfxguy (98788) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:57AM (#25102077)

        Which is yet another great example of why voting third party is not a "wasted" vote.

        I'm sick of people telling me I'm wasting my votes (it won't be the first time I voted for a third party), and yet the same people whine about how bad the government is.

        • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:10AM (#25102159) Journal

          I'm sick of people telling me I'm wasting my votes (it won't be the first time I voted for a third party), and yet the same people whine about how bad the government is.

          You aren't wasting your vote but if you live in a battleground state you really ought to consider the broader ramifications. Do you really think that if Al Gore had won in 2000 that we'd be in Iraq right now? Do you really think that he would have alienated all of our Allies?

          You say your sick of people telling you that you are 'wasting' your vote -- I'm sick of people telling me that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. Both parties are too beholden to corporate interests but there are differences on extremely important issues.

          I've voted third-party myself when both major party candidates suck (as recently as the 2006 NYS Comptroller election) but I really don't think this is one of those times.

        • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:30AM (#25102313)

          It's a pity there's no realistic way that the voting system will be changed in the states.
          It really is the case that when faced with 2 crap mainstream choices you can screw yourself by voting for someone you're really like to see in rather than the lesser of the 2 evils.

          Here we have a vastly superior voting system called Proportional representation.
          I'm probably going to make a mess explaining this.
          It's a little more complex.

          You number your choices 1,2,3,4,etc
          so say there was 4 choices:

          Rep:Jack Johnson:
          Dem:John Jackson:
          3rd party: Joe:
          3rd party: Jill:

          I just number them
          Joe:1
          Jill:2
          John Jackson:3

          Now say after the 1st count
          Joe has 1000 votes
          Jill has 2000 votes
          John Jackson has 10000 votes
          Jack Johnson has 11000 votes

          Under your system Jack Johnson would get the seat and the people who voted for joe and jill would be screwed if John Jacksons policies were slightly better for them than Jack Johnsons.

          Under PR the limit is 12001 votes to get the seat.
          Now when it comes time to count the vote it's clear that Joe isn't going to get in no matter what so he's removed and all the votes for him move to second choices.
          jill still isn't going to get in so her votes are moved to their second or 3rd choice.
          most of the people who voted for joe or jill would prefer John Jackson over Jack Johnson which pushes John Jackson over the 12001 limit and he gets in.

        • I'm sick of people telling me I'm wasting my votes (it won't be the first time I voted for a third party), and yet the same people whine about how bad the government is.

          Funny, I'm sick of third-party supporters telling me that the democrats are the republicans are "the same," which is an utter lie, and I'm also sick of being urged to vote for someone whose policies I detest (like Ron Paul) simply to make a statement.

          I remember back in 2004 every political discussion devolved into people urging all of us to vote for the libertarian candidate, Michael Badnarik. It was ridiculous how much support he got here, and the idea was because he was a self-identified libertarian we should all jump on his bandwagon. Now if you did a little background checking you'd find out he was a paranoid conspiracy theorist who explicitly promised to violate the Constitution his first day of office, but that's the sort of background checking that people didn't want to do. Voting strictly along party lines is stupid, whether the candidate is democrat, republican, or part of a third party.
    • by copponex (13876) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:02AM (#25102107) Homepage

      These are guesses, or even hopes. I agree that any of the viable candidates are going to serve the corporate interest, but there are important differences.

      1. Obama will engage in diplomacy with Iran, and hopefully in covert ways with Hezbollah, Hamas, and the nationalist Iraqi forces. If you're serious about ending terrorism, you have to engage the enemy dipomatically and address the conditions that lead to it. Protip: killing more muslims with western weapons isn't helping.
      2. His Administration will sweep out the Bush/Reagan Administration, while McCain would probably keep a lot of it. That's worth my vote right there.
      3. Obama does not pander to Jerry Falwell or any of his imitators. It's America, so he has to recognize the religious element, but he doesn't associate with the fundamentalist nutcases.
      4. Obama has shown his distaste of the Bush and Clinton Dynasties. Change is good.

      Most importantly, Obama is not McCain. McCain has turned from a moderate Republican, who I would have seriously considered voting for in 2000, to a complete shill, pandering to evangelicals, touting proto-fascist military slogans, and most importantly, has shown the same inability to engage in serious self-criticism that has truly frightened the rest of the world in regards to the Bush Administration. McCain also claims to believe that the Iraq war has something to do with counterterrorism or the spread of freedom, which to any serious observer, is total fucking nonsense.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:10AM (#25102161)

      If you all (including the editor) would read the page, current as of 17 September, it specifically mentions Network Neutrality as a guiding principle.

      Seriously, the whole commenting section is debating about something entirely wrong. RTFA!

  • It's not just NN (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 22, 2008 @06:54AM (#25101645)

    They've cut out about half the content, and large chunks about what they'll do for kids.

    Either they've had advice that they shouldn't be promising definite things (makes it harder to weasel out of stuff later) or they're just cutting down the page size for some reason.

    Either way, bit of a non story.

    Politician changes mind, big whoop.

    • Re:It's not just NN (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:02AM (#25101723)

      From my reviewing, it seems that they removed details/explanation to make it concise. The overall meaning and principles remain the same as before.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:10AM (#25101789)

      The main page got changed, not the actual plan pdf, which is available at the bottom of the page, and is the exact same as the old page was.

      It looks like they just cut down the word count for people who want to glance, and hid the details a layer under.

      http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/technology/Fact_Sheet_Innovation_and_Technology.pdf

      • Re:It's not just NN (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:50AM (#25102543)

        Not only that, the page still contains
        Protect the Openness of the Internet: A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.

        So I think all that is happening is that he edited the actual text to make it more readable, without substantial change in his position (atleast) on network neutrality. The summary is just an overreaction and an unfounded attack on the VP candidate.

    • Re:It's not just NN (Score:5, Informative)

      by GauteL (29207) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:36AM (#25101941)

      "Politician changes mind, big whoop."

      Except he hasn't changed his mind, he has simply edited several points to make them more readable.

    • Re:It's not just NN (Score:4, Informative)

      by EMN13 (11493) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:14AM (#25102193) Homepage

      Indeed, this is a non-story. The page still asserts that he's in favor of net neutrality. It looks like it's been edited; some new material was added and old material shortened to compensate.

      There's no dramatic front-page worthy change of direction indicated.

      Frankly, I think he should include a page on the details of various plans where possible, but the linked page is not that page. It's too long as is!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2008 @06:56AM (#25101665)

    Every American election always reminds me of the phrase from Alien vs Predator.

    "Whoever wins, we all lose." or something like that.

  • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Monday September 22, 2008 @06:59AM (#25101681) Homepage

    The technology stance is important, but there are a lot of substantially more important issues on the table right now.

    We're looking at the candidate who has spoken for and stood for change and integrity from before his political career started, and the candidate who has resorted to making bald faced, demonstrably false and misleading lies that in a non-political context would be grounds for a successful slander/libel suit.

    When considering technology specifically, your choices are Obama, who at least understands technology well enough to have created a successful social networking style community site, and McCain who admits he barely even knows how to turn his computer on. If you're voting technology, Obama is the clear superior choice to McCain.

    I know, 3rd party candidate and all that. I'm a supporter of breaking the 2-party system we have here in the US because I think it really hurts us; but to be completely honest, in this election it is down to two candidates.

    It is extremely unlikely that a 3rd party candidate will successfully run for president until there are a fair share of 3rd party candidates in congress who can prove their chops in a way that makes the lot of them look less crazy (some 3rd party candidates look that way, it gives the better ones a bad name). If you support this ideal, trying to support it top-down isn't the way to get it to happen, it's got to be bottom up - local, state, and federal officials.

    In the mean time, support a candidate who has the ability and perspicacity to restore our good will with the rest of the world. The way the economy is going right now, in 2 or 4 years, net neutrality is going to be a lot less important than food on the table and whether or not our troops are committing war crimes abroad, and whether or not our government is committing anti-constitutional crimes domestically.

  • by Alt_Cognito (462081) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:01AM (#25101711)

    "Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet."

    Barack is completely behind net neutrality, where as McCain is not [tmcnet.com], but don't let the facts get in the way of the way you try and put FUD out there.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Southpaw018 (793465) * on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:06AM (#25101743) Journal
    Strangely it seems net neutrality is no longer as important

    What the fuck are you talking about? It's THE VERY FIRST GODDAMN THING HE MENTIONS.

    Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan
    Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Ideas through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets

    * Protect the Openness of the Internet


    If you're a McCain supporter trying to weasel votes away on Slashdot, you need to say so.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrimsonScythe (876496) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:41AM (#25101971)
      If you look at method9455's user info, this submission is his/her only activity since registering, which is quite recently if you go by the user number (1368959). No doubt this is just another republican troll.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dpilot (134227) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:10AM (#25102167) Homepage Journal

      Don your tinfoil hats, please...

      It appears that the media have decided that it's time for Obama to lose the election. There is nothing in the news now directly about Obama, none of his own words, there is everything in the news about his campaign with words like "beleagured", "desperate", and this "vague rhetoric" stuff. Coming out of the Republican Convention there was the "rock star frenzy" about Sarah Palin, until facts started to reveal that she is really something of a Dan Quayle. There was a brief news cycle of fact discovery about Sarah Palin, and now things seem to be over to Dog Pile on Obama. By the way, notice how Iraq has pretty much disappeared from the news lately? The one thing I did hear is that the central government is beginning to arrest Sunnis, essentially dismantling the "Anhbar Awakening."

      It's certainly good that we keep being told about our terrible Liberal Media, because I surely wouldn't have guessed it from what I've seen, lately.

      I had thought the media were trying to keep this a tight horse-race, because that enhances their own status and ratings, by keeping us watching. That doesn't appear to be the case. Coming into the conventions, we had a Democratic rock-star candidate against a Republican whose own party had very little enthusiasm for him. Coming out we have an invisible Democratic candidate and an energized Republican party, and as far as I can tell, it's largely done with media coverage.

      Oh, and we haven't even see this year's "October Surprise" yet.

  • by tergvelo (926069) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:08AM (#25101765)
    It looks to me like they hired an editor to cut the wall of text down to size. The first huge cut under the heading "Protect the Openness of the Internet" kept the main point while eliminating a massive unnecessary explanation. Readers who are unfamiliar with net neutrality would have been turned off by the wall of text anyway. Also, notice that Versionista doesn't track when blocks of text move to different locations on the page. There are a few paragraphs that simply got moved to other sections. This is just a sensationalist headline that doesn't really belong here. It isn't a "position revision." It is an edit that takes a very lengthy page & cuts it down to a more digestible size. Yes, there's new content, and yes, there are revisions. But on the whole, it's nothing to get up in arms about.
  • I call bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GauteL (29207) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:35AM (#25101939)

    This post is pretty much pure bullshit.

    If you look at the revisions, Obama has shortened some bullet points to make them more readable.

    He still lists what he supports, but he does not going into massive detail in each one of them.

    For instance, his current stance on network neutrality is now (emphasis mine):

    "* Protect the Openness of the Internet: A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet."

    Instead of:

    "* # Protect the Openness of the Internet: A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way. Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet. Users must be free to access content, to use applications, and to attach personal devices. They have a right to receive accurate and honest information about service plans. But these guarantees are not enough to prevent network providers from discriminating in ways that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet. Because most Americans only have a choice of only one or two broadband carriers, carriers are tempted to impose a toll charge on content and services, discriminating against websites that are unwilling to pay for equal treatment. This could create a two-tier Internet in which websites with the best relationships with network providers can get the fastest access to consumers, while all competing websites remain in a slower lane. Such a result would threaten innovation, the open tradition and architecture of the Internet, and competition among content and backbone providers. It would also threaten the equality of speech through which the Internet has begun to transform American political and cultural discourse. Barack Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some web sites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or non-profit speakers, have the same opportunity as incumbents to innovate on the Internet and to reach large audiences. Obama will protect the Internetâ(TM)s traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy. "

    So instead of a massive (and unreadable) paragraph, it is now a very simple bullet point saying that Obama strongly supports network neutrality. How on earth is this "downplaying" network neutrality?

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Monday September 22, 2008 @09:34AM (#25103069) Homepage Journal

    I'm a right wing Republican whose endorsing John McCain but I am appalled at the way you liberals are once destroying yourselves and your candidate with your withering self doubt. We have on the right have a joke, that is, only Democrats could be so smart as to figure out a way to blow election after election and here you go again.

    Can you please have some hope?

    What Obama did with his web site was to basically rewrite it from the mishmash that it was into something more coherent. There is nothing substantively different about this restructuring. Obama has always been in favor of strong IP legislation, but, so what of it?

    Do you really think that a man who spent his formative years arguing in favor of some form of socialism will suddenly turn his back on that?

    Do you really believe that a man who has worked his entire life organizing his own liberal constituency into an election machine is suddenly going to come out looking like Reagan?

    I mean, seriously, don't you think Michelle would kick his rear if he even thought of selling out?

    I mean come on liberals. You are getting a guy whose is your best standard bearer for your commy liberalism in easily 40 years, if not since Roosevelt, and arguably all time. Obama knows well that which he argues and that's why on the right hate the son of a gun so much. If you are liberally inclined, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Obama is a committed idealist with the trappings of greatness about him and in spades. A minor shift in a political position or a rephrasing of a web site is not going to alter the overall thrust of this man's policy or his life.

    So, don't lose faith because some staff member re-edited the web site. Obama is going to deliver for you liberals nearly everything that you believe in if he is elected. Obama is the real deal of liberalism. This is your chance. Don't f--- it up.

    Now, quit whining, liberals, as you so often do, and get off your asses and vote for this guy. He's the best you'll have in your lifetime and now is the time to go for it.

  • by Slartibartfast (3395) <.ken. .at. .jots.org.> on Monday September 22, 2008 @10:06AM (#25103499) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, while I care about the candidates' views on technology, I think long-term impact will be felt far more strongly based on who they appoint to the Supreme Court ("SCOTUS"). The reason I say this is because, by-and-large, republican nominees have been more willing to clamp down on civil liberties, with special attention to interpretation of free speech. (Alas, they've all proved pretty wrong-headed when it came to Eldred v. Ashcroft, a/k/a the unfettered expansion of copyright... but that's where the difference between interpretation and legislation comes in, and, alas (for this case), the SCOTUS isn't nearly as revisionary as the fundies would have us believe.)

    So, anyway, I care about McCain and Obmama's positions. But I care far more that the Court is becoming substantially unbalanced, and worry that a republican in office will have decades-long influence over most every freedom we currently take for granted.

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