In an interview with Wired magazine’s Spencer Ackerman Thursday afternoon, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) covered a few topics both inside and outside of the tech industry, and talked about his imminent tour of Silicon Valley.
To start off, the two discussed Paul’s 13-hour talking filibuster in March against the confirmation of counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan to the post of director of the CIA. Paul restated in the interview that he staged the filibuster both to call attention to the potential threat to civil liberties and disregard towards due process that drone warfare threatened, as well as to form a congressional coalition that would deal with other issues of civil liberties.
Which is where the issue of government regulation of the internet comes in. One of Paul’s current causes is pushing through a bill in the Senate that mirrors a proposed email privacy law in Texas. The bill would require the government to obtain a warrant before accessing a person’s email, closing a loophole in current legislation that allows the government to read anyone’s email once it has been opened or remains unopened on a server after six months. While Paul’s emphasis on bringing the right and left together on this issue makes sense, as protecting the constitutional right to privacy isn’t restricted by party lines, it might have as much to do with his future aspirations as his personal views.
Playing up the cross-party appeal of his civil liberties policies, as well as reaching out to Silicon Valley and establishing himself as a more reasonable candidate in California, is certainly a shrewd move on Paul’s part. Though Paul stated that he won’t come to any definitive decision on running for president for at least another year, this outreach could be seen as another attempt to style himself as a moderate with wider appeal than more traditional Republican candidates. And while Paul’s views are far from meshing completely with mostly liberal Silicon Valley (he managed to sidestep the question about his blunders in past dealings with issues of race), his efforts to have the government confront the legal ramifications and potential abuse of drone warfare have drawn support from both sides, and for good reason.
Whatever Paul decides to do come 2016, his moves to ingratiate himself with Silicon Valley, and establish a base in California, certainly couldn’t hurt.