Three Questions for John McCain

With all the other important issues confronting presidential candidates, it’s hard sometimes to figure out where political would-be leaders stand on geek-centric topics. But since John McCain is making a whistle stop in Silicon Valley next Monday, maybe we can take advantage of the situation and press the senior Senator from Arizona on matters close to Silicon Valley’s heart.Just in case moderator Tony Perkins runs out of questions to ask McCain, here’s a few suggestions with a decided telecom slant:1) Since the Bush Administration seems sure to fall short of its 2004 campaign promise of broadband everywhere by 2007, what priority would a McCain administration put on broadband deployment? And what steps would or should the government take to ensure competition from outside the cable/telco duopoly?

Predicted answer: Judging from his rubber-stamp approvals of last year’s big-telco friendly telecom reform bill (which never made it to the Senate floor for a vote), don’t expect much from McCain beyond “allowing the market to decide” and “keep government regulation off the Internet.” But it’s a setup question anyway, for #2:

2) Since your public declaration of plans to introduce legislation to back the Cyren Call idea for a first-responders’ network, you’ve been somewhat silent on the upcoming 700 MHz auctions. What are your thoughts on the Frontline Wireless plan, and do you think some kind of public/private partnership is necessary to build such future networks, since the government has shown no willingness to do so itself?

Predicted answer: McCain will likely waffle a bit on the Frontline specifics, and may say that his public backing of the oft-derided Cyren Call plan (even the FCC rejected it) was simply an effort to draw attention to the need for public safety requirements as part of the spectrum lottery. Still, it would be fun to hear him try to defend the Cyren Call endorsement, and it would help set him up for our cheap-shot question #3:

3) In a speech earlier this year, you noted that China “spends billions” trying to control its citizens’ use of the Internet, and admonished China to “use its power responsibly.” Given that Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers is now a part of your campaign team, how do you balance your views on China with Cisco’s sales of sophisticated routers into Chinese markets, which allow for the same kind of Internet control that you apparently do not approve of?

Predicted answer: Probably not a “bomb Iran” song refrain. But roll tape, just in case.

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