Issue: COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)
This law is intended to protect children’s privacy online by restricting startups from collecting data from their usage without parental consent. At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like this would affect entrepreneurs at all but it has. This law is opaque, making it hard to predict enforcement—a huge unseen risk for consumer apps—but something you have to be aware about especially if your startup could be considered directed at the kids market.
COPPA has been going through a reform process since 2010, driven by Disney seeking more predictive enforcement. Last week, the draft changes were published for a final review and they’re more, not less opaque.
Issue: CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform)
The political debate of 2013 will be over immigration, and the preferred approach by the White House is to bundle all reasonable reforms into a single comprehensive package (CIR). CIR will attempt to reduce the incentives for illegal immigration, while manually adjusting the complicated immigration process to better respond to the 21st century. What a mess.
We all know foreign entrepreneurs and American founders who struggle with H1-B applications to hire great talent. Immigration risk is one of the worst failure modes faced by founders, and much more irritating than product-market fit or team failures since it’s out of our control.
The question is why Washington ignores a known startup visa problem with an existing solution already proposed. Even worse, Washington is wasting time discussing a complicated, unwieldy package of proposed reforms that will be obsolete by the time they pass Congress.
Log-rolling—CIR is so complicated that the DC process is to load it up with so much stuff that everyone gets a little bit of something to cobble together a majority. As a result of all this complication, CIR will be the major debate of 2013, so if it fails, there’s no chance of startup visa until 2014.
The President will be presenting his CIR proposal on Tuesday in Las Vegas, as the first major initiative of President Obama’s second term. In the past, he has supported high-skilled (STEM Green Cards and Startup Visa) provisions. Despite that support, those provisions haven’t been included in past CIR legislation.