This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Like the changing of the seasons, as Sen. Orrin Hatch's six-year terms near their end, predictable signs and indicators arrive. In the latter case, opinion pieces appear filled with adulation for the seven-term senator.
I was motivated to run against Hatch in 2006 because his comments, positions and legislation were damaging not only to the internet and technology in general, but Utah's reputation as a technology leader. A reputation established in the mid-1960s with David Evans and Ivan Sutherland's efforts attracting top computer scientists to the University of Utah and the number of innovations that subsequently happened here as a result.
My own business, XMission, would have not likely seen the light of day in 1993 if I had not been using the internet at Evans & Sutherland and the University of Utah before.
Hatch continually shows favor to big business over individuals and to large media companies over small artists. In 2003 Hatch glibly asked if computers could be destroyed upon the suspicion of copyright violations, a query that is deeply technically and legally ignorant. One year later, Hatch proposed the INDUCE Act, a piece of legislation so broad in protecting Hatch's industry friends' copyrights that YouTube would have had trouble taking off if it managed to pass.
Since my campaign in 2006, Hatch has attempted to shore-up his technology credentials. His position as a senior U.S. senator has enabled him to gain the ear of many technology luminaries who have subsequently visited Utah for award ceremonies and lectures. However, his actions continue to betray his touted knowledge of technology.
In 2010, he introduced COICA, a bill that would have given the U.S. Department of Justice broad censorship powers over the internet, again at the behest of protecting copyright. A second attempt came at enabling the government to censor the internet over copyright in 2011, when he signed on as an initial cosponsor to the notorious PIPA legislation. Only after enormous protest from Wikipedia and many other internet entities did he drop his support due to which way the wind was blowing.
Hatch once crowed about bringing the NSA Data Center to Utah, but after Edward Snowden revealed the wholesale spying the NSA executes on the American public, he went strangely silent in word and in action. Odd that the man who supposedly pals around with so many tech luminaries and has sat on committees governing the NSA has no insight into what they were doing with billions of tax dollars yearly, nor did he use his self-described technical expertise to ask the questions regarding digital privacy of American citizens when it really mattered.
Some paint Hatch's leadership as essential to the Utah tech industry, but I've seen international companies pull their data from my business, XMission, in fear of the NSA intercepting it. I've seen global ridicule and ignorance of Utah as a technology center because of Hatch's positions, comments and legislation.
Hatch does not have my support primarily due to his continued rancor and partisanship, but he most certainly does not have my vote because of his continued attempts at restricting technology in favor of overreaching copyright while turning a blind-eye to the NSA's unconstitutional invasion of American privacy. Hatch's ignorance and fear of technology has done enough damage over the past four decades. It is time for a new generation to replace him.
Pete Ashdown is co-founder and owner of XMission.