Technology Planning and Analysis

What Do Politicians Know about Tech?

2014 saw IDG Connect start the Politicians Talk Tech series; where we quiz various political types about how they use and view tech. We’ve talked to MPs from all three major parties in the UK; Tim Farron from the Lib Dems, Chi Onwurah for Labour and Adam Afriyie from the Conservative Party. But that’s not all; we spoke to the leader of the UK Pirate Party, Sweden’s Bitcoin-only politician, as well as representatives from the US and Ireland.

So what does the average Politician know about tech? From the nine interviews we’ve done so far, this is an average description of tech-savvy politicians:

They think governments could and should be doing more to embrace technology, cautious about e-Voting, not a big fan of what the NSA and GHCQ have been up to, most likely using a BlackBerry or iPhone, have a 50/50 chance of knowing how to code, have an awareness of Bitcoins (possibly even use them in some capacity) and like social media.

Some choice quotes from the series this year:

Ossian Smyth on the US trying to get at Microsoft emails stored in Ireland: “a ludicrously arrogant attempt to step over Irish sovereignty.”

Meg Hillier on rising cost of rent in London Tech City: “I’m asking Boris [Johnson] to make sure that Tech City does not become a ghost city. He could be the Mayor who destroys Tech City if he makes the wrong decision.”

Loz Kaye on why he’s not big on e-Voting: “We're the ones who know how badly wrong this could go.”

We also published some nice Infoshots on different aspects of politics & tech. We looked at the huge amounts tech companies spend lobbying in the US, as well as how much lower those numbers are for lobbying the EU. We also explored how engaged political representatives are with Twitter.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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