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Telecom, Google Vets to Write Obama Tech Policy Priorities

President-elect Barack Obama has named two telecom industry and policy veterans and a leader of Google's philanthropy arm to craft the new administration's high-tech policy priorities.

The policy working group on Technology, Innovation and Government
Reform will "develop.... proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration," according to the president-elect's transition web site www.change.gov.

The authors of what could be sweeping changes in broadband rules, privacy and government transparency include:

--Blair Levin, a telecom investment analyst at Stifel Nicolaus and former chief of staff to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt. Levin is also seen among a short list of candidates to head the FCC in the new administration.

--Julius Genachowski, former chief counsel to Hundt at the FCC and a member of Obama's transition team. Genachowski, a former law school classmate of Obama's and an active and early member of the campaign, has been talked about as a candidate for the nation's first chief technology officer or FCC chairman. He is venture capitalist, the co-founder of Rock Creek Vetnrues and LaunchBox Digital. Genachowski also served as a senior executive at IAC/InterActiveCorp, where he was head of business operations.

--Sonal Shah heads Google's philanthronpic arm, Google.org's global development efforts. Shah has a lengthy resume on international development issues: prior to joining Google she was a vice president at Goldman, Sachs and Co., developing the firm's environmental policy. She is also the co-founder of Indicorps, a U.S.-based non-profit organization offering one-year fellowships to Indian-Americans to work on development projects in India. Sonal worked at the Department of Treasury from 1995-2002 on various economic issues. She is on the Obama-Biden Transition Project Advisory Board.

The announcement comes amid speculation about who will take the job of national CTO and the FCC. High-tech and telecommunications leaders around the nation are also eager to learn what the job of CTO entails.

Some speculate the nation's first tech czar will be charged with the streamlining of technology within the federal government and making government records more transparent through the Web. There is also a question as to whether that job would also mean high-tech policy decisions from the White House.

By Cecilia Kang  |  November 19, 2008; 4:00 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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