Austin, Texas is widely regarded as a leading center for development of cutting edge technology and a vibrant startup culture. In an election year, how do local Austin candidates for public office deal with issues confronting the tech world? EFF-Austin decided to find out, inviting two local candidates for the U.S. Congress and Texas Senate, Joseph Kopser and Steven Kling, to participate in a tech roundtable. They discussed how they will craft laws and policies relating to current and emerging technologies. Both candidates have backgrounds in the tech industry.
The rate of technological innovation accelerates at an exponential pace every year, and yet it seems the laws we pass to regulate these new technologies struggle to keep up, leaving our rights and the smooth functioning of our society at risk. From the abolition of net neutrality and demands for encryption backdoors in our secure communications to such outlandish and ill-advised proposals as link taxes and impossible-to-implement copyright filters, we see our politicians proposing policies that leave experts in their respective fields shaking their heads in dismay. The lack of elected officials with professional backgrounds and experience in the technology sector leaves our legislators woefully unprepared to fully understand the implications of the laws they are passing, forcing them to defer to well-funded industry groups who may not always have the public’s best interest in mind. To ensure that our laws around emerging technologies are written with the expertise necessary to enshrine and preserve our rights, it is vital that industry leaders in these fields answer the call to civic service.
Joseph Kopser, a 20-year combat veteran and Bronze Star recipient, is president of Grayline, a company that works to bring together experts, data, and solutions to help companies and public institutions manage disruptive change. Before that, he was Global President of moovel Group GmbH, a subsidiary of Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz, and cofounder and CEO of RideScout, a Texas-based technology company that enabled seamless multimodal experiences and connected transit commerce to app users worldwide.
Steven Kling was also a decorated combat veteran, having participated in Operation Enduring Freedom ’05 & Operation Iraqi Freedom ’09. He received the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Combat Action Badge. He is founding partner at KratoSoft, LLC, a consulting company focused on Atlassian integration, configuration and process management. Before that, he worked as Senior Staff Engineer at HomeAway.com. Steven is running for the Texas Senate in District 25.