One of the last announced speakers to TechfestNW, a gathering of leading thinkers, startups and established companies that will be held at the Portland Art Museum on March 23-24, is Ron Wyden, the senior senator from Oregon.
Wyden has established a reputation as one of the most vigilant members of Congress when it comes to the issue of privacy and the increasingly sophisticated tools that our government and others have to violate that privacy.
We caught up with Wyden briefly to ask him a few easy questions to soften him up for the grilling he will face at TFNW.
WW: Given Silicon Valley's prominence, does Oregon have any edge when it comes to the tech industry?
Wyden: You bet. There's a quality-of-life advantage here in Oregon. Our state has a pioneering entrepreneurship that's in our DNA as Oregonians, an unmatched natural beauty that gives residents a chance to enjoy the outdoors and an indisputable top ranking as America's craft brew capital for folks who enjoy their recreation indoors.
You regularly point out that the public deserves to know how many law abiding Americans are swept up under Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Programs. Do you know, roughly, what that number is?
I do not know how many law-abiding Americans are swept up under Section 702, which is supposed to be for surveillance of foreigners overseas. But I can tell you as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the public deserves an answer before Congress debates reauthorizing this program.
How far do you have Oregon going in the NCAA men's tournament?
The Ducks have come a long ways since I saw them battle to beat Alabama in Eugene last December. Oregon has definitely come together since then as a veteran team that I think can overcome the unfortunate injury to Chris Boucher to break through to the Final Four. As a proud Oregon Law School alum whose basketball memories date back to Ronnie Lee and Mac Court, I am certainly rooting for Oregon to be cutting down the nets in 2017.