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Jay Inslee

It wasn’t an official debate, but two of Washington state’s candidates for governor in 2012 got a chance to show off their technology chops today in front of an audience of tech leaders at a Technology Alliance luncheon on broadband spectrum challenges.

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, a Democratic candidate for governor, called better broadband access critical for the economy and small businesses, in particular. He cited progress in areas including NoaNet and the opening of former television spectrum, commonly known as “whites spaces,” for use by companies including Microsoft and Google for a powerful new form of long-range wifi.

“A day without broadband is a day without sunshine for the state’s economy,” he said.

Inslee listed ongoing challenges including the need to allocate a slice of spectrum known as the “D Block” for a national public safety broadband network, and the need to get more consumers access to high-speed broadband, and off of dial-up networks.

Rob McKenna

One advantage is that these issues are an area where it’s easier for Congress to be bipartisan, he said.

McKenna, a Republican who is currently Washington’s attorney general, focused on issues of security and privacy, talking about his work through the National Association of Attorneys General, which he currently leads, and in the state AG’s office.

“We have brought more enforcement actions against spyware and malware purveyors than any other state,” he said, noting that his office has also focused on teaching other states about the fundamentals of pursuing such cases.

McKenna said he agrees with Inslee that “there really is no excuse any longer not to have a federal data breach notification law” that companies follow when they’re the victim of security breaches that put consumer data at risk.

He also talked about how different many of these issues are for teenagers, and the challenges that can create. “We see a lot of problems with kids who overexpose themselves online in terms of information, or sometimes literally,” he said.

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