There are so many politicians and White House aides speaking at South by Southwest Interactive this year that it might as well be called “SXSWgov.” There’s the obvious big name: President Barack Obama is a keynote speaker.
But if you can’t get a seat at that keynote, there are plenty of other panels to satisfy your political interests. Among the political “stars” in attendance will be several members of the U.S. House, such as Will Hurd, Suzan DelBene, Ben Lujan and Blake Farenthold. Several U.S. senators will also be speaking at Interactive, including John Cornyn of Texas, Mark Warner of Virginia and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Interactive has also become a mini mayor’s conference, with the mayors of the following cities speaking at different panels: Atlanta, District of Columbia, Tacoma, Kansas City, Mesa, Providence, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Phoenix, St. Paul, Baltimore, Louisville, and San Jose. In addition, other high-ranking officials from these U.S. cities will be there: Austin, Santa Monica, and Milwaukee. Most of these mayors or city leaders want to tout their efforts to innovate in governance, but it’s also viewed as an economic development opportunity.
There are also over a dozen people from the federal government or the White House represented at Interactive. For techies, the notable ones include Megan Smith, the chief technology officer for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Michelle Lee, the under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Anthony Foxx, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and several commissioners from the Federal Communications Commission.
SXSW Interactive offers several panels hovering around the topic of privacy concerns, which couldn’t be more timely given Apple Inc.’s recent fight over unlocking iPhones. One panel called “Cryptowars 2.0: Silicon Valley vs. Washington,” is tackling the encryption issue head-on. Another panel featuring speakers from Google and Facebook talks about the need to hire chief privacy officers to help manage data protection. And two speakers from IBM will discuss how to protect your privacy, such as using encryption tools and device settings.