U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon

Ron Wyden (U. S. Senate), John Heilemann (New York Magazine)
Conversation
Location: Grand Ballroom
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Ron Wyden, United States Senator, Oregon.

Photo of Ron Wyden

Ron Wyden

U. S. Senate

Ron Wyden was elected to the United States Senate on January 30, 1996 after serving 15 years in the House of Representatives. Senator Wyden is known for a bipartisan, common sense approach to major issues and The Almanac of American Politics has called Wyden “one of our most creative and innovative legislators.”

Senator Wyden believes that entrepreneurs – not politicians – create jobs. Whether measured in issues addressed, legislation introduced, effective compromises negotiated or bills enacted into law, Wyden has been the single most active and accomplished leader on technology issues in the United States Senate.

  • Wyden – along with Republican, Representative Chris Cox, wrote “Section 230” of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which established the principle that backbone providers, network operators and individual sites can’t be held liable for the actions of their users and customers.
  • Also, with Representative Cox, Wyden authored the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act, which has barred states and localities from imposing new taxes on electronic commerce. He is now leading the effort to make this prohibition on multiple or discriminatory taxes permanent.
  • As a senior member of the Senate Energy committee, Wyden has promoted the growth of alternative energy through incentives that encourage real innovation and investment, not just new subsidies to old agricultural and energy companies.
  • He wrote the very first electronic privacy bill which laid out the framework for a system that would ensure consumer confidence while allowing the development of new business models. Wyden also wrote the original anti-censorship legislation for the Internet, encouraging the use of consumer-chosen technology rather than forcing ISPs to police their users or allowing the government to regulate Internet content.
  • As Chairman of the Trade subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, Wyden has been a leader in efforts to open lucrative global markets for our telecommunications and technology products and services.
  • In 2010 Wyden blocked efforts to pass the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) and is currently blocking Senate efforts to protect similar legislation (Protect IP) without Senate debate. Wyden has argued that both bills would protect intellectual property at the expense of free speech, technological innovation and the very foundations of the Internet.
  • Most recently, Wyden teamed up with Rep. Jason Chaffetz to write the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act which creates a legal framework designed to give government agencies, commercial entities and private citizens clear guidelines for when and how geolocation information can be accessed and used.

Wyden won a basketball scholarship to the University of California-Santa Barbara and played in Division I competition for two seasons before transferring to Stanford University to earn his B.A. He earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974 and began his public service with a commitment to protecting senior citizens, first by starting a legal clinic for seniors in Eugene, Oregon, and then as founder and Executive Director of the Oregon Gray Panthers. He currently resides in Portland.

Photo of John Heilemann

John Heilemann

New York Magazine

John Heilemann writes “The Power Grid” column for New York magazine, as well as longer features. An award-winning journalist and author, he has covered politics, business, and their intersection for nearly two decades, in America and abroad. His recent cover stories for New York have included “Obama Is From Mars, Wall Street Is From Venus,” a look at the dysfunctional relationship between Obama and Wall Street and the push for financial reform; “Obama Lost, Obama Found,” an assessment of the president’s first year in the Oval Office; and “Inside Obama’s Economic Brain Trust,” on the White House’s efforts to rescue the American economy from ruin.

Heilemann’s book about the 2008 presidential election, “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime,” coauthored with Time’s Mark Halperin was published by HarperCollins in January 2010; it spent seven weeks in the #1 spot on the New York Times best seller list. Game Change is being developed into a movie by HBO Films, and Heilemann and Halperin are set to write a sequel covering the 2012 election for Penguin.

Heilemann is a former correspondent and columnist for The Economist and Wired (where his coverage of the Microsoft antitrust trial made him a finalist for a National Magazine Award) and a former staff writer for The New Yorker. His book Pride Before the Fall: The Trials of Bill Gates and the End of the Microsoft Era was named by BusinessWeek (among others) as one of the best books of 2001. His four-part documentary on the World Wide Web aired on Discovery in 2008.

Heilemann’s writing has been anthologized in “The Best American Political Writing” three times (2005, 2007, and 2008) and in “The Best American Crime Writing” (2006). He appears regularly as a commentator on Morning Joe, The Chris Matthews Show, Hardball, and Charlie Rose, as well as other shows on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. A native of Los Angeles, he lives in Brooklyn.

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