IT industry and political donations: party, PAC, and individual

Apple, Google and Yahoo are single-handedly undermining America! claims one Michael Reagan*, son of the former president, and pitchman for Reagan.com, a new “all-conservative” email service. The venerable English IT news web site The Register has a breakdown of computer and telecom industry political contributions based on info from the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org. They found that while tech-sector contributions from Apple and Google “are, indeed, weighted toward the Democratic side of the ledger,” it is not the companies themselves that are making the contributions. In fact, it’s the individuals, who work for the companies, who are making the contributions, not the companies themselves.

The notable exceptions to this rule is AT&T. All money from AT&T went through a PAC, and most of that benefited Republicans**. $5.6 million of AT&T’s PAC money went to Republicans, which was over two million dollars more than they gave to Democratic Party coffers.

AT&T and its employees gave the most money of any company on the list, including second-most-contributory company Microsoft. And most of the money from Microsoft people went to Democrats, though a significant amount certainly went to Republicans.

In comparison to AT&T, the entirety of contributions linked to Apple came from individuals, and they overwhelmingly gave to Democrats. The only two other companies that made no PAC contributions were IBM and AOL.

In short, the employees and PAC contributions left neither party untouched, showing the futility of selectively choosing a computers of choice just to favor a political party. Fans of the iPhone indirectly fund contributions to both parties, and there’s little doubt that Verizon and AT&T have an interest in rigging seeing to it that the system is set up in their favor. Those companies, along with Dell, give the most PAC and individual cash to Republicans**.

* I have to wonder how Michael Reagan and his brother Ron, who had a show on Air America, get along.

** And Jeff Plale.

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Woohoo! Jailbreaking electronic devices temporarily legalized

Yup, for the next there years, people can legally “jailbreak” their iPhones and hop to another wireless carrier. (Now I just need an iPhone to jailbreak…) Though I do not anything that’s limited by DRM in a way that effects me—DVD encryption has not—I’m happy to see some relief coming from the tortures of DRM.

Curiously, this was authorized not by Congress, but by the Library of Congress, which is the body with the power to make this ruling. If the dense copy on the LOC page is too much, a more pedestrian reading on the exceptions can be found on ArsTechnica.

More on the Russian spy ring

A few things:

• A total of eleven people have been arrested. They led seemingly normal lives in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

• Their neighbors thought they were average suburbanites, not spies. “‘They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas,’ 15-year-old Jessie Gugig quipped to the New York Times after the arrest of the Murphys.”

• This case is showing the subtly with which the Obama administration is capable of operating. From The Guardian:

[President] Obama was aware of the investigation before he met with the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at the White House last Thursday. The two leaders did not discuss the issue, Gibbs said.

• Obama knew about it, but he and Medvedev had cheeseburgers together one day in Virginia! Mr. Obama certainly is a cool-minded leader if he can pull that off.

• Curiously, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin is among those who have said this won’t have a real impact on the course of Russian-American affairs. A writer for The Guardian agrees with that. (It’s my sense, too.)

• Who knew—Medvedev’s a Mac user! And an iPad user. And Steve Jobs gave Medvedev an Apple iPhone 4G during his tour of Silicon Valley. Lucky dog…

(Compare this to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s tour of California in 1959, when there was still extensive train service, and Silicon Valley didn’t exist!)

• The FBI announced the arrests a few days after Medvedev returned to Russia. David Hearst argues that this spy scandal is the last thing that Medvedev needs as he seeks to bring Russia more fully into the modern economic systems.

• The good news? The spy ring was busted before it could do any real spying.