Rand Paul on Technology



We are no safer due to bulk data collection of phone records

Q [to Sen. Rubio]: Why did you vote against USA Freedom Act?

RUBIO: Here's the world we live in. This is a radical jihadist group that is increasingly sophisticated in its abilities. We are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. And that tool we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal. This tool allowed the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies to quickly and rapidly access phone records and match them up with other phone records to see who terrorists have been calling.

PAUL: You know, I think Marco gets it completely wrong. We are not any safer through the bulk collection of all Americans' records. In fact, I think we're less safe. We get so distracted by all of the information, we're not spending enough time getting specific information on terrorists. The one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino--that might have stopped 9/11--would have been stricter controls on those who came here.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican two-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

Oppose net neutrality; Silicon Valley has no uniform support

Web companies are pressing the Federal Communications Commission for new rules that would require Internet providers to treat all online traffic equally. But Senators Cruz, Paul and Rubio are anything but neutral on net neutrality--they hate it, much less any government regulation at all.

Companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Yelp--through their Washington trade group, the Internet Association--are public backers of net neutrality. They together have praised Obama for endorsing an approach that might subject the Internet to utility-like regulation. All three Republicans, however, rejected the president's suggestion.

To hear Paul tell it, the party hasn't hurt its standing among the tech crowd. He and others, for example, have backed high-skilled labor reforms in the past. The GOP senator also stressed that support for net neutrality is "not actually uniform throughout Silicon Valley."

Source: Politico.com 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 29, 2014

Bridgegate is unsettling; government should not bully people

Paul has largely refrained from commenting on the controversy surrounding the Christie administration's closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. But he can't resist a few subtle digs.

Paul said in an interview that it's not for him to judge whether the New Jersey governor should step down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association while he deals with the bridge scandal, but "It's important that people think that their government not be used to bully them," Paul told the CNN affiliate in Houston. "So for example, one of the things that conservatives have been upset with President Obama is that it looked like he was using the IRS to target taxpayer groups."

"Nobody wants to think their government would shut down a bridge or do something just because you're a Democrat and I'm a Republican," Paul said. "It's unsettling and it's a serious charge. I don't know if it's true, but it's unsettling."

Source: 2013 CNN Political Ticker on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Feb 9, 2014

5% tax on overseas profits & put it all into infrastructure

Q: Is there an area where you feel you can work in common cause with President Obama this year?

PAUL: You know, we make the mistake up there that we try to agree to too much. I'm the first to acknowledge the president and I don't agree on every issue, but if you took ten issues I think there are two or three that we agree on, and we agree firmly on, and why don't we go after the issues that we agree on? When I was at the White House a couple of weeks ago, I said to the president, "I want to increase infrastructure spending, and I know you do. Let's let companies bring back their profit from overseas at 5% and put it all in infrastructure." And I've been talking with Senator Durbin, others in the Senate on the Democrat side. I think we could agree to that tomorrow, but we have to go ahead and just narrow the focus and not say, "Oh, we're going to do overall tax reform," because we don't agree on overall tax reform.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 26, 2014

Generalized warrants for all cellphones is unconstitutional

Q: This controversy over the NSA. You announced that you're going to be filing a class-action lawsuit against the surveillance program. This issue is already making its way through the courts. Two federal judges have already weighed in on it, so why is this lawsuit necessary?

PAUL: One single warrant should not apply to everyone who has a cell phone in America. One of the things that Edward Snowden released was a single court order to the company Verizon that all of their customers records would be looked at. That to my mind smacks of a generalized warrant. That's what we fought the revolutionary war over. So, I think by bringing a class-action suit, where we have thousands of people who come forward and say, "my cell phone records are mine unless you go to a judge & ask a judge specifically for my records," you shouldn't be able to have a general warrant. A class-action lawsuit really brings to the forefront the idea that this is a generalized warrant and it should be considered unconstitutional.

Source: ABC This Week 2014 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 11, 2014

Snowden revealed NSA abuses, but a fair prison term is ok

Q: Is clemency for Edward Snowden [who leaked NSA files] off the table?

I don't think we can't selectively apply the law. Edward Snowden did break a law and there is a prison sentence for that. I don't think Snowden deserves the death penalty or life in prison. I think that's inappropriate. And I think that's why he fled, because that's what he faced. Do I think that it's OK to leak secrets and give up national secrets and things that could endanger lives? I don't think that's OK, either. But I think the courts are now saying that what he revealed was something the government was doing was illegal.

So no clemency for Edward Snowden, but perhaps leniency?

PAUL: Well, I think the only way he's coming home is if someone would offer him a fair trial with a reasonable sentence. I think, really, in the end, history is going to judge that he revealed great abuses of our government and great abuses of our intelligence community.

Source: ABC This Week 2014 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 11, 2014

4th Amendment bans NSA from collecting everyone's phone data

Q: The NSA collects 4 billion cell phone records outside the country every day. How severely would you like to restrict the surveillance by the National Security Agency?

PAUL: I would like to apply the Fourth Amendment to third-party records. I don't think you give up your privacy when someone else holds your records. So, when I have a contract with a phone company, those are still my records. And the government can look at them if they ask a judge. But the most important thing is, a warrant applies to one person. A warrant doesn't apply to everyone in America. So, it's absolutely against the spirit and the letter of the Fourth Amendment to say that a judge can write one warrant and you can get every phone call in America. That's what's happening. I think it's wrong. It goes against everything America stands for. And I will help to fight that all the way to the Supreme Court.

Q: So, you would ban mass data mining?

PAUL: I'm not opposed to the NSA. But I am in favor of the Fourth Amendment.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 8, 2013

I don't mind spying on terrorists, but not on all Americans

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been making a name for himself during his first term as a voice speaking out against the establishment GOP's security policies. In February, he gained widespread attention with his "Stand With Rand" filibuster, a nineteen-hour spectacle in which he protested the Obama administration's secrecy surrounding its counterterrorism policies.

Since then, he's clashed repeatedly with other Republicans on these issues, including the recent revelations regarding the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of phone and internet data. Paul defended his position as being more geared towards the youth vote that the GOP desperately needs to attract. "If you talk about some privacy issues like that, I think you will find youth coming to you," said Paul. He sought to make his position on intelligence gathering clear as well: "I don't mind spying on terrorists. I just don't like spying on all Americans."

Source: Hayes Brown on ThinkProgress.org, "2016 GOP" , Jul 29, 2013

FactCheck: Free "Obama phones" actually started in 1984

Paul wrongly suggested that the Obama administration instituted a program to give free cell phones to the poor, saying "The president offers you free stuff but his policies keep you poor." He later commented that "for those who are struggling, we want you to have something infinitely more valuable than a free phone, we want you to have a job and a pathway to success."

While it's true that the government provides subsidized phone service for low-income persons, such programs were in existence before Obama came into office. Lifeline, a federally mandated program that reimburses phone companies with a monthly subsidy of $9.25 for each low-income customer, has been around since 1984, when it began providing landline service. The program is designed to fulfill FCC policy of providing universal access. The program was then expanded during the George W. Bush administration in 2008 to cover cell phone usage. Since 2009 [FactCheck.org has been] debunking false Internet claims of an "Obama phone."

Source: FactCheck.org on 2013 State of the Union Address , Feb 14, 2013

Sharply questioned ban on incandescent light bulbs

Many Americans remember the now infamous mercury-laden Chinese-made $4 light bulbs that were mandated by Congress in 2007--a mandate by a REPUBLICAN Congress and signed into law by a Republican president. In the name of efficiency, Congress decided to ban incandescent light bulbs, which are now supposed to be phased out completely by 2014.

But, as noted, the alternative to incandescent light bulbs isn't much better.

When I sharply questioned a Department of Energy bureaucrat about the light bulb and consumer choice, my Democrat colleagues said that the ban on incandescent bulbs was beyond criticism because a bipartisan majority had passed it.

Beyond criticism? Government overreach doesn't become constitutional or morally right simply because both parties agree to it.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p. xxv , Sep 12, 2012

TSA is a testament to Islamic terrorist's success

The TSA is a grand testament to Islamic terrorists' success--the scene in any airport pre-9/11 versus post-9/11 is now perceived as a major victory by our enemies. We have given up so many of our liberties, all in the name of preventing another tragedy like 9/11--and that's a tragedy in itself.

There are many parts to this tragedy: great expansion of unchecked federal power; agencies 1st distorting then growing entirely beyond their mission. The combination of all of this has left us where we are today--in a mess.

First came the introduction of the "naked body" scanners, which some have accurately dubbed "porno scanners." For years, passengers on airlines just like visitors to a secure building, have gone through metal detectors to ensure they were not carrying a weapon. In recent years government bureaucrats at the TSA decided that such measures were inadequate.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.157-158 , Sep 12, 2012

TSA's primary function violates the Fourth Amendment

The TSA's primary function as an agency is to blatantly violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unwarranted search and seizure. This agency has insulted and humiliated countless American citizens. I, along with many other travelers, do not view traveling as a crime that warrants routine government-enforced search and seizure. In fact, I view traveling as a basic right, in which Americans should be free to travel from one state to another without having to succumb to sexual harassment, public humiliation, and government theft--of both our possessions and our pride.

America is better than this.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p.179-180 , Sep 12, 2012

Filibuster against SOPA and PIPA: don't censor the Internet

Sen. Paul has led the charge against both the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Today, Sen. Paul issued the following statement.

"The Internet's development is based on the free flow of information, innovation, and ideas, not central government control," Sen. Paul said. "Both PIPA & SOPA give the federal government unprecedented & unconstitutional power to censor the Internet. These bills enable the government to shut down websites that it deems guilty of violating copyright laws. While we support copyright protections, we are also concerned about websites being shut down without their day in court, and making innocent third parties bear the costs of solving someone else's problems."

Sen. Paul concluded, "I will not sit idly by while PIPA and SOPA eliminate the constitutionally protected rights to due process and free speech. For these reasons, I have pledged to oppose, filibuster and do everything in my power to stop government censorship of the Internet."

Source: 2012 official Senate press release, "SOPA and PIPA" , Jan 18, 2012

Voted NO on authorizing states to collect Internet sales taxes.

Congressional Summary: The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes each state to require all sellers with sales exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year to collect and remit sales and use taxes, but only if complying with the minimum simplification requirements relating to the administration of such taxes & audits.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.

Reference: Marketplace Fairness Act; Bill S.743 ; vote number 13-SV113 on May 6, 2013

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Page last updated: Mar 24, 2016