Hillary Clinton's Tech Policy Plan Includes Some Empty Broadband Promises And A Continued War On Encryption

from the making-friends-and-influencing-people dept

Hillary Clinton’s tech policy plan has been released, and it includes some new, potentially hollow broadband promises, a pledge to continue defending the FCC’s net neutrality rules from telecom industry attack, some feel good commentary on the sharing and innovation economies, and continued support for the candidate’s absurd war on encryption.

With the FCC’s recent net neutrality court victory, the broadband industry’s best path forward is to elect a President who’ll stock the commission with revolving door regulators who’ll simply fail to enforce the rules. But Trump’s proven so divisive to some Conservatives, that even AT&T’s top lobbyist Jim Cicconi this week came out in gushing support of Clinton:

“Mr. Cicconi, who worked in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said he has backed every GOP presidential candidate since 1976. ?But this year I think it?s vital to put our country?s well being ahead of party,? he said in a statement provided by the campaign. ?Hillary Clinton is experienced, qualified, and will make a fine president. The alternative, I fear, would set our nation on a very dark path.”

Given AT&T’s threat to take the neutrality fight to the Supreme Court, Cicconi’s support is curious, but may say more about Trump’s unpredictability than it does about Clinton. Regardless, the 14-page “technology and innovation agenda” includes upsetting her new BFF by continuing to fight for net neutrality:

“Hillary believes that the government has an obligation to protect the open internet. The open internet is not only essential for consumer choice and civic empowerment ? it is a cornerstone of start-up innovation and creative disruption in technology markets. Hillary strongly supports the FCC decision under the Obama Administration to adopt strong network neutrality rules that deemed internet service providers to be common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. These rules now ban broadband discrimination, prohibit pay-for-play favoritism, and establish oversight of ?interconnection? relationships between providers. Hillary would defend these rules in court and continue to enforce them.”

The plan also makes some arguably vague promises on broadband, promising to deliver ubiquitous broadband to all Americans by 2020:

“Hillary will finish the job of connecting America?s households to the internet, committing that by 2020, 100 percent of households in America will have the option of affordable broadband that delivers speeds sufficient to meet families? needs. She will deliver on this goal with continue investments in the Connect America Fund, Rural Utilities Service program, and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), and by directing federal agencies to consider the full range of technologies as potential recipients?i.e., fiber, fixed wireless, and satellite?while focusing on areas that lack any fixed broadband networks currently.”

While some outlets were quick to call this plan ambitious, historically vague broadband coverage promises haven’t meant all that much.

A favorite pastime of politicians is to make broadband promises they know will be completed even if government doesn’t lift a finger, then gobble up the easy political brownie points (with ample help from an unskeptical tech press) after the fact. Obama, for example, in 2011 promised wireless broadband coverage to 98% of all Americans, ignoring the fact that industry data at the time suggested we’d already met that mark (albeit poorly) with 2G and 3G wireless. Former FCC boss Julius Genachowski similarly received ample praise for issuing a “gigabit city challenge”, knowing full well gigabit service was arriving without much help from him or other politicians at the time (mostly via frustrated towns and cities forced into the broadband business on their own).

And while the FCC will help us get to 100% broadband coverage by opening up spectrum for 5G, moving from the supposed 98% broadband coverage mark to 100% really won’t require much government help. 5G is arriving by 2020 or so regardless of what Clinton does, as it’s a cornerstone of AT&T and Verizon’s plan to hang up on unwanted DSL customers they refuse to upgrade. That doesn’t somehow mean the broadband that’s “100% available” to you is going to actually be good or cheap, since that would involve the government acknowledging that lack of competition means Americans pay more for broadband than most developed nations. Fixing this will take significantly more than empty promises, and for Clinton, it will certainly involve pissing off new allies like Jim Cicconi.

The lion’s share of Clinton’s tech agenda consists of ambiguous promises that, as with all campaign promises, may or may not have any actual basis in fact.

Clinton’s plan calls for improving government adoption of technology and efficiency, improving our patent system (which the Clinton camp declares “has been an envy of the world”), and other feel good efforts such as “facilitating citizen engagement in government innovation” and using technology to “improve outcomes and drive government accountability” (doesn’t that sound lovely?). But Clinton also makes it clear she intends to continue waging war on encryption — her plan for a “Manhattan Project” to “solve” (read: weaken) encryption still very much on the table:

“Hillary rejects the false choice between privacy interests and keeping Americans safe. She was a proponent of the USA Freedom Act, and she supports Senator Mark Warner and Representative Mike McCaul?s idea for a national commission on digital security and encryption. This commission will work with the technology and public safety communities to address the needs of law enforcement, protect the privacy and security of all Americans that use technology, assess how innovation might point to new policy approaches, and advance our larger national security and global competitiveness interests.”

Yes, it’s abundantly clear that Clinton and friends continue to struggle with the idea that encryption is simply a tool, and like any tool it can be used for a myriad of purposes. That doesn’t mean you unilaterally declare war on said tool — or work tirelessly to make that tool less useful or more dangerous via backdoors — a conversation we’ll apparently be having over and over and over again should Clinton’s presidency ascend beyond the rhetorical, larval stage.

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Comments on “Hillary Clinton's Tech Policy Plan Includes Some Empty Broadband Promises And A Continued War On Encryption”

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: "guns are just weapons...weapons are purely destructive"

Lawrence D’Oliveiro I wonder how you would regard the AK-47 on the flag of Mozambique considering it is recognized as an instrumental tool by which the nation’s people established their independence. Do you regard the overthrow of oppressors as destructive?

Just because guns are not tools of a sort that you approve doesn’t mean they are not tools at all.

I’d also be curious how you regard mining and demolitions (both of which use heavy amounts of explosives) as well as the HARP Cannon.

Tools are tools. And it is up to us how we use them. Generally, though destruction is universally a precursor to construction. There are always old orders to disassembled before new ones are raised. Destruction has its place.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re: curious how you regard mining and demolitions (both of which use heavy amounts of explosives)

But no guns. Do you have a Constitutional right to bear explosives? Walk down the street with some C4, and you will likely be arrested as a terrorist, and no amount of pleading with the NRA will save you.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 curious how you regard mining and demolitions (both of which use heavy amounts of explosives)

Actually, we are allowed to use explosives, though C4 which is a military grade plastique isn’t available, though it’s damn safe, and I wouldn’t be presenting any danger waving it around, even if I beat someone up with it or lit it on fire. C4 is crazy stable.

If I’m looking to do some mining on my land (or on any claim, which I can still validly make), then yes, there are plenty of over-the-counter explosives available to me, and I can walk down the street with any of them.

Thanks to the Oklahoma City Bombing, yeah, the Feds are now terrified of fertilizer used to make giant terror bombs. Not that terrorists will ever run out of things with which to home brew explosives. Mostly the new regulations inconvenience a bunch of farmers.

If I have a project big enough then yes, I can get the industrial stuff that we use to liquefy mountains. It doesn’t take a lot of paperwork.

You never answered my question, nor satisfied my curiosity. It does sound like you have a hatred of guns more than is duly rational, and I’ll repeat what I said before: people are stupid when it comes to deciding what is dangerous or not. If we let the state take away our guns, then we know it’s going to try to take away our cell phones and our Rock-&-Roll music and our internet because it already has.

I’m not a gun owner. But it’s only a matter of time before moral panickers like yourself start trying to take away things I do value.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Encryption control is essentially the digital equivalent of gun control.

“The difference being” is that is your perceptual filter. Good for you.

Cars kill more people than “guns” (you meant firearms, you anti-gun nazi, right, but you couldn’t be bothered to use your words).

> Tool have constructive uses
Just like cars.

Wait now it’s weapons. First you said “guns”. You probably meant firearms. Now it’s weapons. No worries, anti-gun nazi, cars are weapons.

>Weapons are purely destructive
Like a scythe?


Stop mixing metaphors. You don’t make sense.


Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re: Cars kill more people than "guns"

Comparing per-car versus per-gun? Or per-car-owning-person versus per-gun-owning person? Per-car-trip versus per-shot-fired? How do you want to do this comparison?

Another fun fact to ponder: even as car ownership and usage has been increasing, traffic injuries and deaths have been decreasing, in both absolute and relative terms.

The same cannot be said for guns. Cars are safe, and continue to get safer, while “gun safety” is an oxymoron.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cars kill more people than "guns"

> The same cannot be said for guns

Still refusing to use a specific word. First guns then weapons but never firearms. Whatever.

> Cars are safe

No, cars cause most deaths. Period.

Now go make up more sophistry while the facts and data are clearly showing cars to be the #1 safety hazzard and the #1 killer in the US.

Best and all that.


Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The first amendment should do it.

I suspect that our right to encrypt data and communications would fall under the first amendment.

The need for police to know what you said is not something that they should legally be allowed to force. When they do have the capability, it should still be subject to the fourth and fifth amendments.

And given that we now have tech for crypto with plausible deniability, they can criminalize crypto all they want and you’ll still be able to encrypt your crap.

The end result will not be no crypto, it will be underground crypto.

Ambrellite (profile) says:

Anything about investment in new public transportation tech? Drafting legislation to better regulate autonomous vehicles? Encouraging innovation by reforming the broken USTPO? Lowering copyright terms to a sane level? Protecting fair use rights? Establishing a federal agency to inform congress and POTUS about technology? Tech approaches to global warming? Investment in commercial space travel? Asteroid mitigation?

Adding 2% broadband coverage and breaking private encryption is doing less than nothing. This sucks.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Politics

How about we compare the candidates in terms of how they will address the topic (war on encryption)… rather than what scumbag criminal a-holes they are?

Not that I mind politics. I’m fine with discussing it. Just I once was told not to mix it with sex or religion or techdirt.

goes to have religious sex


Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

We tasted it already with Obama vs. McCaine and Palin

The safe choice vs. the unthinkable choice is ultimately what our elections have become:

Choose one for President:
~ Shilly Puppet McBigBizOwnsMe
~ Kitteneater Azathoth, Charnel Lord of the Bottomless Pit

And Shilly will only be slightly better than Azathoth until eventually enough people get fed up Azathoth gets elected.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Politics

How about we compare the candidates in terms of how they will address the topic (war on encryption)…

Easy enough.

Trump: Almost certainly doesn’t understand the topic in the slightest, but will lie and say whatever he thinks will be most beneficial to him at the time.

Hilary: Likely does understand the topic, or at least enough to make an informed statement on it, but will lie and say whatever she thinks will be most beneficial to her at the time.

So between the two you’ve got one person who doesn’t understand the topic and will lie, vs another person who likely does understand the topic and will lie. Not exactly much to go on there to differentiate the two.

Anonymous Coward says:

She really likes tech. Really. Really. No, not kidding. Really.

I.T. works best when it is boring, reliable, and standardized.

HRC’s campaign has been run in exactly the fashion you’d expect from somebody with NPD. Everything has been about leveraging division, and appealing to her victems (constituency) ego. This discord is a fair indicator that she is completely unable to understand anything that isn’t about her.

Which is to say, that she will do whatever her handlers tell her will make her more famous. That is and has been, mostly about creating mayhem so that she can subsequently be at the center of it. So you can expect NOTHING that she does to conform with any kind of standards oriented process.

It doesn’t matter what advice she gets. She will be unable to take advice on this subject. There is nothing about this person that would suggest that she could at any level, EVER, do anything without fucking something up for somebody.

Creating mayhem is what she does. It is at the core of her personality. If you think there is any possibility that that is good for I.T. people then I have an antivirus suite to sell you.

I.T. Guy says:

Like a typical politician, her words conflict with her words.

These two are at odds with each other:
This commission will work with the technology and public safety communities to address the needs of law enforcement, protect the privacy and security of all Americans that use technology

The “needs” of law enforcement wanting a backdoor to encryption will put the privacy and security of all Americans that use technology at risk. No way around it. No magic unicorns or pixie dust can make that happen.

I like this one:
“advance our larger national security and global competitiveness interests.”
Should read
advance our larger national security interests. Global competitiveness and National security have nothing to do with each other and are lumped together to sound like a good thing. Well if its one thing we’ve seen is our “national security interests” are hell bent on breaking encryption.

“Hillary will finish the job of connecting America’s households to the internet…”
I read that as a bunch of more money going to ISP’s that will never deliver and never be held accountable for the money.

This bovine fecal matter is making me sick.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Clinton's contradictions smack of fed talking points.

My take on it is that she’s saying what someone has informed her is the thing she needs to say, that either the alleged people or some important contributor wants to hear.

Contrast Trump, whose perception of the world changes with the wind and his recent mixed drink, though he does do some platforming, probably on issues about which he doesn’t really care.

Either way, we’re talking candidates not grounded in reality, who haven’t done their homework, and who are going to be puppets for others in the shadows.

Like Bush, and with the same outcomes on the nation that Bush had.

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