PolitiHacks Digest #1

Issue: COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)

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.

Here’s more information about the changes to the law, and if you are a startup in this space needed advice, ping Micah Schaffer
Issue: CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform)

The political debate of 2013 is immigration, and the preferred approach by the White House is to bundle all reasonable reforms into a single package (CIR). 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.

Issue: Immigration Gang

A group of Senators have been meeting since the election. They’ve produced some tweaks on CIR from 2007 and 2011. No Startup Visa, but STEM Green Cards.

Basically, very little to like for the startup community, but some little tweaks that could make founders’ lives easier, like getting rid of the per-country caps that have created a backlog for technical founders from India and China who want to start companies but need to wait until they have their green cards.

The primary focus is on the low-skilled, agricultural, and undocumented immigrant communities. One of the Senators supporting it is Marco Rubio (R-FL), which is important because this bill 1 of 3 he’s supporting that addresses us, big businesses, and the comprehensive supporters. More on that below.

Four Basic Legislative Pillars:

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

Issue: I-Squared

Not a lot public to report on yet about this bill.

It primarily focuses on increasing the number of H1-Bs, something a lot of big tech companies want. It also doesn’t include Startup Visa and includes STEM Green Cards, as well as lifting the per-country caps.

It also allows international students to apply for green cards directly, which is new.

Again, Sen. Rubio is a primary supporter of this bill, 2 of 3.

Issue: President Obama’s Las Vegas speech on Immigration

A reprise of President Obama’s May 2011 El Paso speech, which included support for startup visa and immigrant entrepreneurs. Expect something similar to hisImmigration Blueprint. Reactions to this next week.
Issue: Startup Act

In 2012, this bill attracted the most attention from the startup community. It died in January 2013, with the beginning of the new Congress, but its supporters plan on reintroducing it. While it still doesn’t have a good chance of passage, it’s the clearest marker of solving the startup community’s problems.

If CIR fails, then the Startup Act will be a good place to pick up the pieces in 2014. Sen. Rubio supports this bill as well, 3 of 3.

People: White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

This office is the primary contact for founders and investors. They want to hear from you about what is making founders lives suck. If you’ve got something you want to say, just reply to the newsletter. Their jobs are to research and promote policy within the White House decision-making machine that supports entrepreneurship.

People: Partnership for a New American Economy

Mayor Bloomberg created this organization to fix the immigration problems startups face, as well as promoting more basic research and helping big companies hire great talent. They’re always looking for CEOs to tell their stories, and we need your story, coupled with the data they provide, to convince Washington that we’ve got an urgent problem with the immigration status quo.

People: Senator Marco Rubio

A very interesting character. Sen. Rubio is supporting three immigration bills that draw from very different bases of support.

  1. Immigration Gang/Comprehensive immigration reform: Addresses primarily low-skilled or undocumented immigrants, as well as family unification
  2. I-Squared: Big tech, increased access to H1-B visas, highly educated talent
  3. Startup act: Techroots, startup visa, entrepreneurship promotion
He’s also the Republican leader on immigration, meaning that his support signals to the rest of his party what reforms are worth supporting. Very important to watch. His open strategy is opposing a comprehensive bill in favor of piecemeal approaches. He’s put together a truly comprehensive package of low- and high-skill immigration reform here that is worth watching over the next few months.
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3 Responses to PolitiHacks Digest #1

  1. Pingback: PolitiHacks Digest #2 | PolitiHacks

  2. Pingback: PolitiHacks Digest Week of 2-11 | PolitiHacks

  3. Pingback: PolitiHacks Digest: Week of 18 February | PolitiHacks

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