President Obama touted the federal government’s role in supporting Silicon Valley industry, as he reminded California donors that a Defense Department program helped research internet technology.
“The incredible prosperity that is generated from Silicon Valley in part is because we collectively — or at least our parents or our grandparents — made investments in things like DARPA, and basic research and science, and helped to facilitate the framework that created the worldwide web and all the spinoffs that came out of that,” Obama said yesterday at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser.
In the absence of private investors to fund an idea, Obama said that government support is “what then provides us the platform to do the incredible things that we do.”
It’s the kind of comment that Obama has made many times, but it’s hard not to hear it in context of yesterday’s late-breaking news that the National Security Agency and the FBI “are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.”
The intelligence official who provided evidence of that activity to The Washington Post said “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.”
The agency website says that “DARPA’s mission is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research bridging the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use.”