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Bush, Kerry Agree on P2P

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) may be highlighting their differences as their presidential campaigns hit the home stretch, but both apparently agree on at least one technology issue.

The solution to copyright theft over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks is not to be found in regulating the technology, according to their responses to a Washington IT trade organization's questionnaire released Thursday.

For the last two years, Congress has debated a number of proposals aimed at slowing the trade of pirated music through file-swapping networks, including measures that would essentially ban the technology itself.

"Blaming the technology does not address the issue. We must vigorously enforce intellectual property protections and prosecute the violations, not the technology," Bush wrote.

Kerry responded with, "I strongly support attacking bad behavior -- putting child pornographers behind bars and prosecuting individuals engaged in mass piracy. But, regulating technology should be a last resort to solving any content problem."

Kerry also wrote he was "open to examining" whether legislation is necessary to guarantee consumers the right to make backup copies of legally downloaded music or transfer media to personal devices. Bush chose not to address fair use rights.

The presidential candidates were given up to 250 words to respond to a dozen broad, open-ended questions posed by CompTia, a 20,000-member organization of electronics manufacturers, software developers, telecom and e-commerce companies.

The format allowed the candidates to pick and choose, as well as duck and chuck, on Voice over IP , Internet access taxes, online privacy and cyber security.

Bush, for instance, took the opportunity to call for further deregulation of the telecom market, particularly in regards to VoIP.

"Internet telephony by its nature relies on technology that does not distinguish geographic borders," Bush wrote. "This requires us to take a hard look at the appropriate role of federal and state regulators with respect to a technology that may be more similar to e-mail than to regular telephony, at least in the way the signal is transmitted."

Bush's comments came just two days after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell said he would push for an FCC vote as early as next month to declare VoIP an interstate service and not subject to state rules, regulations and taxes.

"We must work toward creating regulatory certainty, which provides companies with the incentive to invest in new technologies and services," Bush wrote.

Kerry, on the other hand, had little to say on the issue. In his shortest answer to the questionnaire, Kerry simply stated: "I am open to examining the best methods to deploy new technology in a way that is consumer friendly and promotes a competitive marketplace."

While Bush again called for a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes, Kerry didn't address the issue at all.

On cyber security, though, Kerry had plenty to say.

"We need a president who is actively supportive of developing technologies that will automatically detect and respond to [cyber attacks]," Kerry wrote. "We need a president who will devote the energy of the White House to making our networks -- our 21st century infrastructure -- stronger and more secure. That means supporting a cyber security intelligence system ready to detect these threats."

Bush touted his National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace announced in February of 2003 calling for a voluntary partnership between the public and private sectors to share security intelligence, reduce vulnerabilities and deter malicious entities. Since then, panels of IT industry members have met with federal officials in several high profile "summits."

Thursday, the president wrote the plan "depends on both public and private efforts to secure the many elements that comprise the national information infrastructure, including routers, switches, fiber-optic cables, and tens of millions of interconnected computers."

Kerry, too, acknowledged the federal government couldn't get the job done alone.

"Most of the infrastructure we need to protect doesn't belong to government -- and neither government nor business can fix these problems alone," Kerry wrote.