With Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama predicting a “split decision” as voting began today in 24 state primaries and caucuses, it is noteworthy, and perhaps not all that surprising, that of the remaining candidates, the Illinois senator has talked most about technology policy. In November, Obama visited Google headquarters where he outlined his support for such regulation as network neutrality, a Google policy favorite because such regulation would serve the company’s business plan very well. I’ll grant the candidate some slack because Google is an important employer in an important state, but I would caution him against getting to gushy about the search engine giant. During a panel discussion on the candidates’ positions at last week’s State of the Net conference, Julius Genachowski, Obama’s policy advisor for technology, mentioned Google no less than three times in a five-minute overview. Google’s apparently politically hip enough that Democratic candidates and their staff can toss its name around with such abandon (unlike other multi-billion-dollar corporations such as AT&T, Microsoft or Comcast). Considering that Obama has promised “to step up review of merger activity and take effective action to stop or restructure those mergers that are likely to harm consumer welfare, while quickly clearing those that do not,” it won’t help to get too palsy with Google, which faced its own antitrust questions with DoubleClick and now appears to be running interference to “help” its primary search engine competitor, Yahoo, push back on Microsoft’s buyout offer. So far, Google seems content to play within the boundaries of the market. It would be disappointing to see them turn to the government in an attempt to protect their market position. Obama and his campaign staff should put the company at arms length.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.
Titch's work primarily focused on telecommunications, the Internet and new media. He is a former managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News (IT&T News) published by the Heartland Institute. His columns have appeared in Investor's Business Daily, Total Telecom, and America's Network, among others.
Prior to joining Reason in 2004, Titch covered the telecommunications industry as a journalist for more than two decades. Titch was director of editorial projects for Data Communications magazine where he directed content development for supplemental publications and special projects. He has also held the positions of editorial director of Telephony, editor of Global Telephony magazine, Midwest bureau chief of CommunicationsWeek, and associate editor-communications at Electronic News.
Outside of the telecom industry, Titch conducted rich media and content development for publishers and corporate marketing groups. He has also developed and launched his own web-based media, including SecuritySquared.com, an on-line resource for the security industry.
Titch graduated cum laude from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and English.