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Obama named tech-friendly candidate

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

The folks over at TechCrunch have chimed in on the U.S. presidential elections with their official endorsements of the most tech-friendly candidates. On the Democrat side Senator Barack Obama got the nod, while Senator John McCain got the thumbs up for the Republicans. They were picked after the website conducted interviews with nine candidates, who were asked to state their positions on 10 key technology issues, including net neutrality, mobile spectrum auctions, immigration visas, internet taxes and identity theft. Readers then voted on their picks while TechCrunch editors added in their own analysis.

Obama was TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington's clear pick, because he "has put more time and effort into defining his technology policies than any other candidate." Obama is staunchly in favour of net neutrality and doesn't believe the Federal Communications Commission went far enough in opening the wireless spectrum auction that's currently under way in the United States.

On the Republican side, the choice wasn't as obvious, Arrington wrote, because the candidates are generally against government intervention on technology issues and in favour of letting the markets decide. That's a problem with monopoly markets such as internet access and cellphones, which means some government intervention is needed.

McCain at least went on the record with his views and made it clear that he would address some inequities raised by his hands-off approach.

In the end, TechCrunch's endorsement of McCain was half-hearted at best, with the site clearly picking Obama as the most tech-friendly candidate.

The Republicans' position on technology issues is closely mirrored by the Conservatives in Canada. With the notable exception of the wireless spectrum auction that begins in May, where newcomers will be given preferential treatment, the Conservatives have similarly been in favour of a hands-off approach that lets market forces determine what happens. The government has also been repeatedly accused of eroding consumer rights and catering to big business with the deregulaton of local phone markets, an attempt to circumvent lawful access rights on telecommunications subscriber information, and of course the looming copyright reform legislation.

Strangely though, it's an area that opposition parties seemingly haven't paid much attention to. Are there no votes in taking a pro-technology stance?

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