Obama, at Google, calls for national CTO

Illinois senator is the seventh presidential candidate to speak at the Google campus

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would appoint a national chief technology officer to ensure that every government agency is meeting 21st century standards.

Speaking at a Town Hall meeting at Google Inc.'s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, Obama talked about his plan to connect Americans through technology. Google invited the candidates to hear their views on some of the issues that affect their company as well as the technology industry in general. Obama was the seventh presidential hopeful to participate.

Other presidential candidates who have talked to Googlers are Republicans Ron Paul and John McCain and Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill Richardson, John Edwards and Mike Gravel.

Dell Inc. also has invited the candidates to its campus.

"Together, we could open up government and invite citizens in, while connecting all of America to 21st century broadband. We could use technology to help achieve universal health care, to reach for a clean energy future, and to ensure that young Americans can compete -- and win -- in the global economy," Obama said at the Google meeting.

Obama said he would use technology to open up democracy by putting government data online in universally accessible formats, enabling people to track federal grants, contracts and lobbyist contacts, among other things. In addition, he said he would allow citizens to participate in government forums, ask questions in real time, offer suggestions and comment on legislation before he signs it.

Andrew McLaughlin, Google's director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, noted in the blog that Obama also supports Net neutrality because the candidate wants to make sure the Internet remained an open network. Obama also described his technology policies to strengthen online privacy, to make sure all Americans had access to high-speed broadband, and to free up wireless spectrum for new connectivity and public safety.

During his visit to Google, Edwards urged the FCC to set aside spectrum in its upcoming auction to foster new broadband options.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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