Senator Rand Paul Talks Tech, Civil Liberties, and Keeping the Government Out of Your Email

by SPENCER ACKERMAN, Wired  |  published on June 1, 2013

Rand Paul
Rand Paul is having some problems with the jerks back at the office. So today he’s bypassing them on a road trip through Silicon Valley.

It’s not that people don’t like the junior senator from Kentucky. Many want him to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016. It’s that Paul’s politics lean libertarian, especially when it comes to privacy and national security, and the Senate is where civil liberties go to die. When Paul called for rolling back the Patriot Act, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slimed him. When Paul loudly worried about President Obama killing Americans without due process of law, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) slimed him.

Funny thing, though. In March, when Paul held a dramatic 13-hour protest on the Senate floor excoriating what he saw as the excesses of an endless war, newly elected Republican senators (and even some Democrats) rallied to his side. Like good politicians, they saw that Paul was inspiring a tsunami of popular support: He got 3,500 new Twitter followers in just one hour, all for holding a clinic on C-SPAN in what Washington considers a political albatross. #StandWithRand became a thing.

So he’s taking his show on the road. Today, the Kentuckian is in Silicon Valley, meeting with Facebook, Google and eBay to talk about privacy, tech and civil liberties — as well as to hold swank fundraisers. Paul is hardly an easy sell in liberal California: Some of his positions and comments on civil rights have been, at the least, tone-deaf. Paul’s ongoing challenge is to form a winning political coalition that unites right-wing and left-wing libertarians, and his trip to the center of America’s tech sector is an early test of that coalition’s tensile strength. As he kicked off his tour through the Valley, Paul talked with Danger Room about what comes next.

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