Bernie Sanders Fights for Your Internet Privacy

Mathew Sayer From our Perspective

The Iowa caucus is fast approaching; so we’re going to put aside the bitter clingin’ aneurysm-fest for a moment to see how the candidates if elected, would shape the Internet. We’re going to look at voting records, the Snowdometer, and tech literacy- would they be caught holding an iPad of paper? First up Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders

The veteran from Vermont has a civil rights record stretching back to the 60s; he was literally there for “I Have A Dream.” Sanders is one of the few politicians without a “Controversy” section on his Wikipedia page. What makes this more impressive is that he’s a career politician who credits Hitler for getting him into politics.

“A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932,” the senator said. “He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.” (CS Monitor)

Sanders hasn’t taken the elevator to the highest echelons of power. He’s been (increasingly) slowly climbing the stairs. Three terms as mayor of Burlington. 15 years in Congress. Two terms in the Senate. This is a guy who doesn’t like ceremony and ritual. He hasn’t paid his dues to the Democrats in the party machine, only joining the Democrats in 2015- one of the longest serving independents the US has ever seen. He’s been smart enough to avoid that and get on with being a model politician.

All these traits come across in his policies and stances on Internet policy. Firmly in the corner of the people. The perennial problem is the lack of solutions put forth. But here we run into a problem of politics and its place in the 21st century. Bernie wants to open the debate but as the rise of Trump shows there is a sizeable chunk of people who don’t really want debate, they want a strongman.

Tech Literacy

Back in May of 2015 Sanders made a stirring speech as Section 215 was preparing to be repealed. He demonstrated that he knew, or had been briefed, about Fitbits, automatic license plate readers, metadata, and geotagging. He also pointed out the big dependency that corporations have on personal data- lest we forget PRISM. To stop companies from collecting our private data through legislation would be a mammoth task. It would subvert the business model of Silicon Valley and undermine that rotting carcass of a bill CISA recently passed because it was attached to a must pass budget bill.

Sanders on NSA surveillance:

COOPER:  Would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?

SANDERS:  Absolutely.  Of course.

COOPER:  You would, point blank.

SANDERS:  Well, I would shut down – make – I’d shut down what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA.  That is unacceptable to me. But it’s not just government surveillance.  I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites.  Corporate America is doing it as well. (CNN)

There we go with that corporate America craic again Bernie. Someone in his campaign office has been reading the Circle. This democratic socialist knows that addiction is the ultimate driver of capitalism, whether it’s oil or data or oily-data, but how to tell the addicts that?

Progressive as ever, Bernie must really get the internet.

Sander’s campaign opened a DCMA case against The Wikimedia Foundation requesting that several campaign logos be removed from Wikipedia. This is just… So, so, so odd. If I had to offer a suggestion, it might be that Sander’s relies on sales of these bumper stickers and badges to fund his $40 million campaign- 74% of which has come from Small Individual Contributions. But then, just, what, why? Bernie! We were having a good time!

Voting Record

Thankfully Sander’s voting record is a lot clearer than his lawsuits.


    USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (well…)
    Protect America Act of 2007 (no need for a warrant if the targets are “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States)
    Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 (re-authorising much of the Protect America Act of ’07)


    None. Bernie doesn’t do surveillance.


He’s been called a terrorist, a spy, and a traitor. All we know is he’s hiding in Russia and he likes cats. But is there any love between these two? Could we expect a pardon if Sanders is runnin’ things this time next year?

Sanders on Snowden:

COOPER:  Senator Sanders, Edward Snowden?

SANDERS:  I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.

COOPER:  Is he a hero?

SANDERS:  He did – he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that.  But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is (inaudible)[sent away?]. (CNN)

Snowden on Sanders:

That’s a ringing endorsement from a guy who voted for Ron Paul and worked in the IC. Bernie hasn’t said he’d get off freely. But he does concede that Ed did some good and that has to be taken into consideration. I’m afraid it is all downhill for Snowden from here, though, На здоровье for now.


Sanders has been at the cutting edge of progressive politics for half a century. His stances on net neutrality, surveillance and encryption align with the brightest minds in tech, but his thoughts on their business model (that’s you Silicon Valley) will probably leave him wanting in terms of start-up support.