How the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates stack up on the surveillance state

Today, Restore The Fourth launches its voter guide for the 2020 Democratic primaries.

Mass state surveillance is less about who’s in the Oval Office and more about senior intelligence community officials and tech company executives. Their institutional imperatives plow ahead with only limited influence from the White House either way. It’s not clear that even a President who assumed office pledging to undermine the surveillance state would still be able to do so.

However, there are still meaningful differences between the different candidates for President. We don’t make endorsements or dis-endorsements, but it’s part of our mission to educate the public about those differences, and existing sources don’t draw together adequately the necessary information for privacy-oriented voters.

This cycle, we’re analyzing candidates’ track records and statements with respect to seven factors: (a) NSA surveillance; (b) FBI surveillance of domestic dissent; (c) DHS border surveillance; (d) police accountability; (e) commercial privacy and online publisher liability; (f) encryption; and (g) attitude to national security whistleblowers.

This necessarily casts a broader net than our congressional surveillance scorecard. Votes are the clearest indication of where a candidate stands, but some candidates have never held elected office. Where appropriate, we are also including and contextualizing candidate statements and non-legislative actions. This guide focuses on the Democratic candidates; ahead of the other parties’ debates, we will aim to do the same.

A / A- : Tulsi Gabbard : Bernie Sanders : Elizabeth Warren

B+ / B / B- : Beto O’Rourke : Cory Booker : Kamala Harris

C+ / C / C- : Julian Castro : Pete Buttigieg : Andrew Yang

D / D- : Amy Klobuchar : Joe Biden

Unclassified: Tom Steyer

Continue reading How the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates stack up on the surveillance state