WASHINGTON — The nation’s top technology executives weighed in on politically sensitive issues Wednesday as part of a
Software Alliance (BSA) CEO policy forum.
The executives presented a united front in supporting offshoring,
protection of intellectual property rights and the need for better
cybersecurity, particularly in the area of government systems.
The forum was a public pit stop on a day of private political lobbying
key administration and congressional members for tech CEOs, including
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Adobe’s Bruce Chizen, Borland’s Dale Fuller,
Symantec’s John Thompson, McAfee’s George Samenuk and RSA Security’s
Senators Robert Bennett (R-Utah) and Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) joined the executives in a spacious Senate meeting room.
“Offshoring is a natural aspect of globalization but there seems to be
misunderstanding that software exemplifies a vulnerability in the U.S.
economy,” said Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems. “The fact is that
offshoring is just the opposite. Americans have the most to gain from
Added Bentley, “I would hate to see that jeopardized by protectionist
Since January, technology jobs being sent overseas has turned into a
politically volatile issue, with Democrats in particular blocking or
bills designed to promote free trade.
“Let us not get carried away with the idea that trade hurts American
It’s very important to our gross national product,” Bennett said.
Borland’s Fuller said a greater threat to the American software
other countries’ attempts to slow the importation of U.S. software.
“There are now countries in the world that are setting up their own
to us, essentially saying their software has to be produced by their
[developers],” Fuller said. “We’re seeing the same thing happening with
countries that are using open source software.”
Software piracy, of course, was a major source of comment from the BSA
Adobe’s Chizen said total U.S. software losses to piracy amounted to
billion last year.
“The amount we’re losing [to piracy] is more than the music and movie
industries combined,” he said. “The government is helping to the extent
can. What we need is more money for the Department of Justice for
enforcement and we don’t need to change any laws, especially the DMCA
(Digital Millennium Copyright Act).”
Ballmer was more circumspect on the piracy issue.
“The issue gets a little bit more insidious in the sense that there are
important economies where the U.S. has a variety of different agendas
trade, etc., which are among the very worst for piracy,” Ballmer said.
government can do a lot and the government can certainly do more.”
On the issue of cybersecurity, RSA Security’s Art Coviello said he was
“disappointed” with the efforts both the private and public sectors,
McAfee’s Samenuk’s said the government was not leading by example with
widely reported security problems.
Bill Connor, president and CEO of Entrust, summed up the security issue
saying, “It is an election year, you can’t expect a lot.”