Skip to main content

Paul Ryan: Tech's friend or foe?

Paul Ryan has an active online presence and is a fan of technology's impact on governance.
Paul Ryan has an active online presence and is a fan of technology's impact on governance.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • It's possible to glean some of Paul Ryan's positions on tech issues from his voting record and prior interviews
  • Ryan publicly opposed SOPA, although he added that Internet piracy was a "legitimate problem"
  • He voted against an amendment that would have established network neutrality as law

(Mashable) -- Technology issues might not be the most pressing topic facing Paul Ryan — Mitt Romney's running mate — as he campaigns for the White House.

In fact, given the state of the economy and the other high-level issues facing the country, it's unlikely that Ryan or any of the other national candidates will be asked substantial questions about technology policy in the coming months.

However, even if Ryan doesn't get asked a single question about technology or the Internet, it's still possible to glean some of his positions from his voting record and prior interviews. Here, we have done just that.

Stop Online Piracy Act & Internet piracy

Ryan pick adds social media muscle
Romney: It's Ryan for my VP

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was almost universally vilified by those in the tech community. Ryan never co-sponsored the bill, but that didn't stop rumors from circulating that he supported it.

Eventually, Ryan was at least partially forced to make a statement on the bill by pressure from a group of anti-SOPA Reddit users who either found his stance vague or believed he supported the bill. That group began "Operation Pull Ryan," a grassroots effort to support Ryan's opponent in an upcoming Congressional race.

Soon after the Reddit group began gaining momentum, Ryan announced his opposition to SOPA, saying that it would create "the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse." He added that the Internet is "one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history" and it should "stay that way." He did, however, add that Internet piracy was a "legitimate problem."

The opponent supported by the Redditors, Rob Zerban, declared his opposition to SOPA and did an "Ask Me Anything," a form of crowdsourced interview for which Reddit has become famous. Later, Zerban credited the Redditor's efforts to get Ryan to commit to an anti-SOPA stance.

"Reddit was able to force the House Budget Chair to reverse course — shock waves will be felt throughout the establishment in Washington today, and other lawmakers will take notice," wrote Zerban.

Net neutrality

Net neutrality, the idea that Internet networks shouldn't distinguish between the types of traffic carried across them, is a contentious issue in Congress. Many liberals feel it would prevent Internet Service Providers from slowing the web services of competitors, while many conservatives believe it interferes with the free market by regulating private industry.

Ryan, a conservative Republican, falls into that latter camp.

In 2006, he voted against a Democrat-sponsored amendment that would have established network neutrality as law. Last year, Ryan voted for a House resolution disapproving of FCC regulations mandating that any traffic management on the part of ISPs be "reasonable" — a step towards net neutrality.

Open government

Ryan, who has an active online presence, is a proponent of open government and a fan of technology's impact on governance:

"When I started in Congress it was 90% paper, 10% electronic, now it's 90% electronic, 10% paper and constituent correspondence is up tenfold," said Ryan of technology's impact on the relationship between voters and elected officials during an interview at Facebook.

"[Technology and social media] strips away the intermediary that media plays between people and their government. It gets rid of that middleman and allows people to interact directly with their elected officials. The flattening of that process has been tremendously helpful to those of us who want to hear what people think."

Is it important to you that the president and vice president share your opinion on technology issues? Do you want Ryan, Romney, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to directly address their stances on tech policy? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read the original article on Mashable

© 2013 MASHABLE.com. All rights reserved.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
updated 1:19 PM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Paul Ryan joked at the start of a foreign policy speech last year that "it's nice to actually finally get out of my fiscal cocoon and talk about these issues."
updated 9:23 AM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
For both presidential campaigns, Republican Mitt Romney's choice of Wisconsin congressman and conservative star Paul Ryan as his running mate was like Christmas come early.
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Sun August 12, 2012
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate on Saturday.
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Sat August 11, 2012
Mitt Romney took a step many political experts did not think he would -- choosing a controversial and bold running mate and making one of the most important announcements of his campaign at a time many did not expect.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is considered a rising GOP star and the Republican Party's leader on fiscal and budgetary issues.
updated 3:59 PM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Romney's choice of Ryan is considered by political observers to be a bold, risky move that could potentially change the dynamic of the Oval Office race. By the numbers, here's a look at Paul Ryan.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Sat August 11, 2012
Follow Paul Ryan's progress in this interactive timeline from the very beginning to being selected as Romney's VP pick.
Beth Myers has long been Mitt Romney's most trusted political adviser, so it's no surprise that he tasked her with the job of helping him find the right running mate.
As Mitt Romney unveils Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, questions over the House Budget Committee chairman's budget plan will likely become a hot button debate topic this fall.
updated 10:41 PM EDT, Mon August 13, 2012
Photos of Mitt Romney and his VP pick, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
ADVERTISEMENT