Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Did selection of Biden just cost Obama the “tech vote”?

Obama’s recent selection of Joe Biden as his running-mate may had spelled doom for the Obama-Biden ticket – at least among the technically inclined.

According to CNET and Gizmodo:

  • Joe Biden asked Congress to spend $1 billion to monitor peer-to-peer activity. His excuse was to “prevent child pornography,” but his approach applied to everything P2P, not just kiddie porn.
  • Not one, but TWO of Joe Biden’s bills have been explicitly “anti-encryption,” because you know, encryption makes it hard for the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service, and the White House to read your e-mails.
  • Joe Biden has expressed support for internet taxes and internet filtering in schools and libraries. After all, the government doesn’t get enough our our money in the form of taxes… and the internet is “dangerous” because it fosters something called “freedom of speech.”
  • The RIAA seems to be one of Joe Biden’s best buddies: Biden sponsored a bill that would restrict recording of songs from satellite and ‘net radio, and another one that would make it a felony to “trick” a computer into playing back unauthorized songs or running bootlegged videogames.
  • Joe Biden was one of just four senators invited to attend a celebration of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act hosted by the MPAA’s Jack Valenti and the RIAA’s Hillary Rosen, two of American file-sharer’s most wanted.
  • When Joe Biden was asked in 2006 about proposing net-neutrality laws, he said there was no need for net neutrality, since any bit-filtering violations would provoke such a huge public ruckus they’d have to hold congressional hearings anyway.

Are we alone in our opinion that Biden is a bad choice for VP? No, we’re in good company; Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, eBay, the EFF, and Yahoo have all opposed Biden’s technology bills at some point or another.

What about your privacy? How does Joe Biden stack up there?

Biden wants to get rid of that pesky privacy issue (also known as the Fourth Amendment), at lease according to his voting record. In the 1990s, Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and introduced a bill called the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act, which the EFF says he was "persuaded" to do by the FBI. Another of his bills was called the Violent Crime Control Act. Both were staunchly anti-encryption, with this identical language:

It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.

In non-government babble that means turn over your encryption keys. And since the government already thinks your emails are just “postcards on the internet” and open to be read by anyone (including themselves) what is one to do to “secure” their email when encryption isn’t secure?

Biden’s bill (and the threat of encryption being outlawed) is what inspired the PGP movement.

Where does Biden stand on FISA and retroactive immunity for illegal wiretaps?

Recently our elected officials had the opportunity to slap the Bush Administration across the face sending a message that the Fourth Amendment isn’t dead and cannot be usurped in the name of “fighting terror” by voting down the FISA Amendment which (amongst other things) gave retroactive immunity for all telecommunications providers that illegally opened their network to the National Security Agency for wiretapping purposes).

Joe Biden didn’t agree with Bush’s wiretapping and the thought of retroactive immunity for telco’s who went along with the illegal scheme and voted against the FISA bill. Even Joe Biden thought that went “too far.”

But does Obama share Biden’s opinion on technology and your online privacy?

Obama promised to support a filibuster of any bill that would give telco’s immunity from Bush’s illegal wiretapping. When the time came for him to vote to protect our privacy, I wrote him a letter asking him to support a filibuster, or in absence of another Senator filibustering, I requested that he be the one to filibuster.

  • No one filibustered the bill.
  • Obama didn’t start a filibuster.
  • Obama didn’t vote against the bill.
  • Obama didn’t even “abstain” from voting one way or another.
  • Instead, after promising to hold Bush accountable for his illegal wiretapping, Obama voted away our privacy (yours and mine).
  • Obama, instead, commented that he will “fix that, once elected.”
  • To top it all off, Obama didn’t even have the common courtesy to reply to my letter.

Obama’s mantra has always been about “change” without really telling us what that “change” is. Apparently Obama’s “change” means no online privacy.


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4 Responses

  1. Hazard says:

    We all have to choose our issues , I guess. I haven’t looked a the tech voting of a president in forever. Frankly the privacy of my email seems trivial compared to the deaths of thousands of human beings due to an illegal and unethical invasion of a sovereign nation. Same with the skyrocketing price of oil, economic collapse, human oppression, poverty, child abuse, and a million other things.

    I truly envy you if the privacy of your email is your biggest concern for the future.

  2. Joe says:


    While I respect you as a person and your views, I feel that you’ve missed the points made in this post.

    Obama promised to the country, in his own words, that wiretapping of Americans was wrong and that he would oppose granting immunity to those that participated in Bush’s illegal wiretapping to the extent of a filibuster on any bill that would do that.

    – He lied. Not only did he NOT filibuster as he promised, but he voted “for” granting immunity to those that illegally followed the dictates of a power-hungry president. How can you support someone that says one thing, then votes entirely opposite?

    – He didn’t respond to the calls from potential voters to make good on his word, he showed utter disregard. Not a characteristic we want in a president, wouldn’t you agree?

    – He shows signs of a dictator in his comment that “he’ll fix it (his FISA vote) later.” Isn’t that the same thing Bush did? He passed an executive order “authorizing” the NSA to violate the Fourth Amendment in the name of “fighting terror” now Obama says he’ll “fix it” by executive order, overthrowing a vote of Congress. Sounds like dictator material on both counts.

    – Privacy of email is one thing, privacy of phone calls, web traffic, instant messages, VoIP, how can that not be considered to be covered by the Fourth Amendment?

    – The war in Iraq was authorized by the Senate, the same Senate to which both Obama and Biden are members. Did either of them filibuster the Act that authorized the Iraq invasion? Have any of them filibustered any of the subsequent spending bills? No. Why? They’ve been content enough just to vote against them (when they have).

    – Skyrocketing oil prices are due to prior administration’s (including the Bush White House) failure to secure America’s power needs. Obama has no plan to do this in the future.

    – Our current “economic collapse” got its roots in the Clinton Administration, we’re still feeling it now. The Bush White House hasn’t fixed it, only slowed it. The President should start with his own house with regards to the economy. Has Obama vowed to enforce a balanced budget to keep the Government from going further in to debt, which results in the kind of inflation that we’re beginning to see? No? Why not?

    – The elimination of Human Oppression is a lofty goal. But it conflicts with the “stay out of other people business” that Obama opposes. Why should we force our morals on any other nation? It hasn’t worked in Iraq.

    – Child abuse. Where did that one come from? Don’t we have laws against that domestically? Are they not being enforced? How will an Obama/Biden White House reduce this? Do they have a plan? What is it?

    – We saw that Obama didn’t care about the Fourth Amendment with his recent FISA vote, now with his selection of a running-mate we see that his disregard for AMERICAN’S RIGHTS is all but absent!

    – A million other things… yes, there will always be other things. But to date I have yet to see an Oath of Office that says any elected official (including the President and Vice President) must “protect and defend” a million other things… or the price of oil… the economy… They do SWEAR as a condition upon their assumption of their office to PROTECT and DEFEND the Constitution of the United States of America, which includes the Fourth Amendment.

    So you see, you may think that privacy in email, or phone calls, or any other online thing, or the books that you check out from the library or buy online are “trivial” but without the foundation of our Rights which are underscored by our Constitution, no candidate for office has any direction or any obligation to its People — you and I. That comes first.

    Sure, our invasion and occupation of Iraq is unethical and many say illegal; sure the economy stinks; and yes, the administration we have now is responsible for that, but WE THE PEOPLE elected them. WE THE PEOPLE control them, and I’ll be damned if WE THE PEOPLE are going to casually give up our Constitutionally Enumerated RIGHTS without a fight.

    Do NOT vote for someone based on their party affiliation! You’re voting for a PERSON, not a party. You didn’t elect the party leadership. They aren’t held accountable to the people. REFUSE to give THEM the power that rightly resides in YOU!

    You can (and should) vote for the candidate that you believe in, but DO NOT allow ANYONE to violate their Oath to Protect and Defend the very foundation of our Nation. Do not vote for someone just because you don’t like “the other guy.” Do not vote for someone just because you want a “change.”

    Vote for someone because they are trustworthy and keep their word.

    Vote for someone because they are the right person for the job, NOT because they’re the lesser of two evils.

    Don’t vote for someone because you don’t think that the person that you want isn’t going to win.

    Don’t be afraid to vote for someone ELSE other than someone with an R or a D after their name. It sends a message, especially when they don’t win.

    Remember the message we sent to Bill Clinton when he was up for re-election. Utah was the only state that he took 3rd place. In what has become a two person race, he took 3rd! Imagine if McCain or Obama (or both) came in 3rd and 4th in an election! Imagine the effect that would have on the country. Now stop imagining and go out and find a candidate that is PRO-CONSTITUTION, PRO-AMERICA, and PRO- whatever other beliefs you have (in that order), then VOTE FOR THAT PERSON! Don’t compromise, vote for who YOU want to win, otherwise your vote is worthless as are so many others.

    The more people that come to this realization the more the power will be eroded from the parties and restored to where they rightfully belong, in WE THE PEOPLE.

  3. mckay says:

    They’re both the same problem.

    We’re in this pointless war to “protect us”…they want to strip us of our privacy to “protect us”

    What we need is somebody who sees the whole “terrorist” fraud for what it is…a blank check for the Government to do whatever the heck it wants.

    Say the word ‘terrorist’ and you can do anything you want in the name of security. You can invade sovereign nations, take away the peoples’ privacy, arrest and harass the citizenry for any conceivable reason.

    The problem is the overall mindset, and there are no options this November that will fix it.

  4. Joe says:


    I agree, they are both the parts of the same problem.

    The only option we have in November is deciding if we want to give up our own liberties, or make war with those that “they” claim would rob us of them…

    There’s a though… we’ve declared WAR on a group of people that would (allegedly) rob us of our life and liberty because they don’t conform with their way of life and liberty… but isn’t that what the Government is doing by eroding our liberties and sending us off to war?

    Perhaps it’s getting closer and closer to when we need to “declare war” on our own Government? Not with guns and bombs, but with the unseating of those who subject us to their will, rather than being subject to the will of THE PEOPLE.

    I can’t vote for McCain nor Obama in November… and Ron Paul dropped out, so now who? Who will raise the banner of freedom, both domestically and foreign?

    PS: If you don’t agree with my conclusions you’re a terrorist. 😉

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