The Harker Civic Tech Club hosted a special Q&A session with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo on Tuesday ahead of next week’s general election. Eshoo, who represents California’s 18th congressional district, talked about the importance of young people getting more civically involved in light of how technology and social media may be used to compromise the electoral process. “You are the generation that is the most tech-savvy and you’re going to continue down that path,” she said. “What I worry about is what chisels away at our democracy.”
Due to the heavy amount of misinformation present online, Eshoo cautioned students to “think hard and think well about the information you’re receiving. You really need to go to trusted sources, because there is so much that is not only misleading, it’s damaging.”
On the topic of cyberbullying, Eshoo said she regards it as a serious safety issue. “In my day and time, it would have been called stalking,” she said. “It’s dangerous and it can lead to some really dark things.” She said that young people mobilizing would be key to making progress on cyberbullying. “Just as young people have taken to the streets on gun violence, I think your generation has … moved the American people to a new sense of conscience on that issue,” she said.
She added that while several companies have created policies against cyberbullying, not enough has been done to detect it. “I appreciate that recognizing bullying isn’t always easy. There are a lot of grey areas, including inside jokes between friends,” she said. “I think teams of students weighing in with the companies could be very effective.”
Eshoo also touched on the topic of online voting, which could allow far more people to take part in the voting process. “To be able to vote online has to be absolutely 1000 percent secure,” she said, deferring to the late Congressman John Lewis. “He always used to say that the vote is so sacred and that it is the most powerful non-violent tool for change in our country.” While she expressed support for the idea of online voting, there is currently not enough of a guarantee against vote tampering for it to be viable. Supporting improvements to the current voting process, the congresswoman said, “The idea that there are thousands of people standing in lines today, that shouldn’t be the case in the United States of America. Some of our systems are like horse and buggy in comparison to what they should be.”