Chief of Technology

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum, talks about the potential presidential cabinet position of Chief Technology Officer. Who's in your fantasy cabinet? Visit our Fab Cab page and let us know.


Andrew Rasiej

Comments [21]

Jon from NYC

With all due respect to RJ from Brooklyn, we hackers have been the first to expose, document, and scream vociferously when we find security holes. Unfortunately, "hacking" is a "bad word".

We've been following many instances of privacy breaches, such as the human error and failure to follow procedure that resulted in millions of Veterans Affairs records to have been lost; the [insane] implementation of RFID in passports which makes it possible to identify people at a distance and without the carrier's knowledge; the privacy flaws in the MTA's ticket-vending machines that allow man-in-the-middle attacks to access your credit card and PIN numbers; and even demonstrating how to rig electronic voting machines (not just that they could be rigged).

While your concerns are absolutely well-founded, you're blaming the wrong crowd. To err is human, and an erring human with a computer is exponentially dangerous.

In 99.5% of all the privacy breaches that have been reported, my paraphrasing of Shakespeare hold true: the fault, dear RJ, lies not in the hacker but with the careless (or, in the case of the electronic voting machines, politicized) corporation to whom we entrust our privacy.

Nov. 13 2008 12:00 PM
Bear Kittay from Manhattan

I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss MYBO and give a 23 year old perspective to the discussion. The PAC I started following working with the Obama campaign is called Music for Democracy (

We believe in a "triangle theory" whereby the fusion of politics, technology, and pop-culture (music) will provide the tools needed in the progressive movement to empower direct democracy.

I see the next step as being the evangelizing of these tools through music communities. Look at what happened when NAS decided to use his own mailing list to stand up to Fox News... more than 500k people signed his petition.

Since Goldwater the right has invested more than 1.4 billion dollars in institutions and 527s that have given them the edge. It is now our time to shine, music is our church- we must seize this opportunity.

Nov. 13 2008 11:37 AM
rylee from nyc

Hello Craig,
We've come a long way since "schwabbie" days Here in NYC too. Always listen to BL show. Rosanna

Nov. 13 2008 11:29 AM
RJ from Brooklyn

Please can we not forget the need for privacy in health care records. It's not paranoia to believe that insurers (and there will be private insurers in all current reform proposals) will attempt, in legal and perhaps extra-legal ways, to check up on insurees.

What about the incessant "loss" of data that happens when, oh, a truck with the backup data somehow misplaces it en route to the storage place, or a laptop is stolen from someone's car?

And hackers?

What about computer crashes? The implications of losing this data, backups nothwithstanding, is much more threatening than even the ripoff of credit card data.

Use of medical info for identity theft?

These questions need to be addressed before universal requirements for online posting of medical records are put in place.

Nov. 13 2008 11:26 AM
Craig Newmark from New York (normally San Francisco)

Hey, Andrew's very savvy regarding tech and politics, and I rely on him for advice.

(speaking only for myself, not craigslist)


Nov. 13 2008 11:23 AM
Howard Duffy from Brooklyn

1. +10mb Broadband nationwide

2. We also need to finally, fully go METRIC(!) We are wasting resources with the imprecise Imperial system.

3. Gov systemwide overhaul for networks/applications

Nov. 13 2008 11:21 AM
Bob Kernen from Darien, CT

Secretary of Technology candidates:
Marc Andreesen (been there since the beginning)
Dean Kamen (imagine the halls of the West Wing clogged with Segways)
Bill Gates (he's not working!)
Steve Jobs (he's handling 2 jobs, what's one more?)

Nov. 13 2008 11:20 AM
Kate from NYC

What's the address for that What's On site that he mentioned that lets you measure your carbon footprint?

Nov. 13 2008 11:20 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

A lot of the NYC websites are great. The Board of Health and the Department of Buildings in particular. You can find lots of information on them, from what restaurants failed their last health inspection to what violations the building across the street from you still hasn't corrected.

Nov. 13 2008 11:19 AM

I am curious what is thoughts are on 508 compliancy (accessibility standards). I do work on creating government sites with a goal of being engaging and attractive to users, but the restrictions of 508 compliancy are absolutely crippling in this regard, and will never allow government sites to keep pace with technology.

Nov. 13 2008 11:19 AM
Lis from Edison, NJ

Thinking about the next generation of scholars and researchers, there has to be some emphasis on archiving any material put on the web so that it can be viewed in the future. The National Archives is having great difficulty in making accessible, materials that were produced in formats that are now obsolete.

Nov. 13 2008 11:19 AM
LeoinNYC from Soho

PLEASE PLEASE let our new CTO review military technology expenditures. The staggering amount of waste in the pursuit of weapons we don't need (missile defense anyone?) needs to be reviewed by someone outside the pentagon.

Nov. 13 2008 11:18 AM
Dan from New York

Jonathan Zittrain.

He is young, brilliant, charismatic, dynamic, a law professor (like Obama), and his work perfectly qualifies him for the job.

Nov. 13 2008 11:17 AM
JohnG from Manhattan

Nicholas Negroponte would be ideal.

Nov. 13 2008 11:17 AM
Jon from NYC

We need a Department of Information Technology the same way we needed the FCC when radio came about: to make sure that different interested parties had access to the medium (in this case the electromagnetic spectrum) without trampling upon others' access (translation: prevent interference). Telcos are great at restricting access.

For the 21st century we're going to need open access for the entire country. It will *have to* be a government project. After all, no telco would want to make the kind of costly infrastructure investment on the scale or scope of something akin to the interstate highway system.

Nov. 13 2008 11:16 AM
Charles Lukoba from Newark, NJ has embedded youtube videos

So I guess with Obama that rule you started in the program will change.

Nov. 13 2008 11:15 AM
Nick from NYC - Inwood

I'd like to see such a position also address and take a leadership role on the subject of privacy for consumers and for citizens, which will continue to emerge as a major issue.

Consumers/citizens need to have control over their personal data and clear, sane choices about how it is gathered and used.

Industry cannot plausibly self-police here, as we've learned in general.

Nov. 13 2008 11:11 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

A tech chief should not only instruct the President about technological developments and what the government can do for technology but also what technology can do for government. There is a great potential for streamlining bloated and expensive bureaucracies to squeeze the most use out of our tax dollars.

I also think that we need software developers to give advice to our commander in chief. With so many social and economic programs, there are always people looking to "game the system" and collect money they aren't entitled to and avoid paying money they owe. Developers of video games (particularly the new genre of Massive Multiplayer Online Games) have had to deal with this kind of stuff for years, and I think that gamers could help point out potential loopholes in legislation better than any regulator or legislator. I don't think they should be the only ones evaluating the legislation, but it might be useful to have such people review new government systems.

Nov. 13 2008 11:06 AM
Steven from NYC

Why does the CTO have to focus on computers? Why can't the CTO also look into other energy production, distribution, health care medical records, and other that Obama mentioned throughout the campaign

Nov. 13 2008 11:04 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

Me. I would love to be the Chief of Technology Officer.

Nov. 13 2008 10:24 AM
dan from Brooklyn

Seen Here's a post on Personal Democracy Forum about it:

Nov. 13 2008 10:24 AM

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