TR: You’ve taken up the cause of online privacy, putting a number of mobile-app makers on notice. Why is this so important to you?
KH: The technology that is changing the world was created right in my backyard. My mother was a scientist. It was her plan to do two things: to raise her two daughters to be successful and to end breast cancer. I grew up, because she was a single mother, going to the lab with her on weekends. And it’s very exciting to watch people and, in this case, the industry be unburdened by what has been, and being so creative and innovative in producing devices and approaches and systems that are changing the way the world works …
I’m also a career prosecutor, and I strongly believe that we have to create systems where vulnerable people are protected … And in this exciting new world there are vulnerable people who need to be protected, and there are also predators that need to face consequences and accountability. So I created an eCrime unit in my office last year, and then this year created the office of privacy and protection. That’s about making sure … that when they are creating their genius around letting me have a flashlight in my cell phone, when they’re creating all this fabulous stuff, let’s remember also that the consumer has a right to know what they may be giving up for the convenience of what they get.
TR: What is your current stance on illegal immigration and the DREAM Act? Has your experience growing up as a child of immigrants informed your opinion in any way?
KH: I completely support what the president did in terms of young people who were brought into this country, who have lived a law-abiding life, who have gone to school, graduated college, served in our military; we need to give them a path.
On immigration in general, we’ve got to fix it in this country. We have somewhere between 11 million and 12 million people in this country who are undocumented. They are not leaving, and I don’t think anybody would agree with a public policy that says, let’s find them all and then kick them out … So let’s figure out a way to integrate them and, like the president says, do it in a way that they have to get in the back of the line … We should not allow ourselves to compartmentalize that population in a way that we decide that because they are undocumented they are criminals.
TR: Recent polls have pointed to an increasingly polarized electorate, with prejudice against blacks and Hispanics rising since 2008. What do you believe that says about America since the historic election of an African-American president?
KH: The issue of race is a complex one … One of the very special things about Barack Obama is that he believes in — as he talked about so eloquently in the first campaign and has been consistent in his presidency — he believes in one United States of America. And he understands as a leader that we have to fight for it, but we know we can achieve it, an America where one’s gender or race or religion does not subject you to any unfairness … If we think that it is not possible then we will never fulfill our promise as a country.
TR: What is your message to voters?
KH: I’m here to just remind folks that their vote matters, and that more than anything it’s important for people to have their voices be heard, and the best way to do that is to vote … As attorney general of the biggest state [in population] in the country, when I look at what we needed to do to defend the president’s groundbreaking reform of the health care system, the Affordable Care Act, we fought to defend its constitutionality. And why? Because this president pushed through what administrations for 100 years had literally tried to do … and failed … That is one of many examples of how he has been a true leader in some of the most difficult times our country has seen.
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to the Washington Post’s “She the People” blog, The Root, theGrio, Fox News Charlotte, Creative Loafing, and has worked at the New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.