Light on news, heavy on clapping, tonight’s 2015 State of the Union address won’t shock or amaze you. But, the annual speech does one thing well: It paints a pretty clear picture of U.S. President Barack Obama’s stance on a number of tech issues.

And so, in case you’re hunting for a recap — or, if you (gasp) missed the live address — here’s a summary of Obama’s statements on NSA reform, building an open Internet, and more:


During his speech, Obama reassured citizens that, “as promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse.” Obama says that next month the White House will “issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.”

As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties … so while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t.

In other words, Obama seems to think the NSA is doing a decent job of protecting citizens’ privacy. If that’s the case, don’t expect a lot to change on this front.

A free and open Internet

Unsurprisingly, Obama continues to support net neutrality and municipal broadband. There isn’t much else to say here, but here’s an optimistic quote:

I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.

Tax loopholes

Obama reiterated today that he wishes to “close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America.” This is, in some ways, a nod to the complicated tax strategies of corporate giants like Apple and Google, which have avoided paying billions in taxes in the past by incorporating abroad.

For far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the super rich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do. … Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford.


Tonight the President pushed Congress “to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyberattacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” Obama’s words of encouragement follow harsh criticism from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in which the president was criticized for proposing easily abusable legislation.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.

Bonus: A megaphone for Medium

Today the White House published the president’s full State of the Union address 30 minutes ahead of time for the public to read … on Medium.

Obama’s love of social media is no secret, but Medium, a relatively young blogging site created by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, is pretty new territory for the president. Obama only joined the service last year.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to write a think piece about it. But it’s noteworthy that Medium is getting so much presidential love. Remember how much celebrity support helped Twitter during its early days?

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