PolitiHacks Digest: Week of 25 February

“Like it or not, the U.S. is in a global competition for the best and brightest. For the first time, immigrants have choices, including going to the many countries other than the U.S. that value them.”
L. Gordon CrovitzWall Street Journal

Three Things You Need to Know:


  1. First “You’ve Been Bad” notices go out under Six Strikes, a copyright enforcement agreement between content and ISPs
  2. Cellphone unlocking petition breaks 100,000 signatures
  3. Please retweet: WSJ hails MarchForInnovation.com & tech leaders pushing for #immigration reform to keep talent in USA. http://on.wsj.com/13FfPuS #iMarch

What’s Going On in DC: 


Six Strikes: Culminating in an Internet Cutoff for Copyright/Sharing Violations

Six Strikes is a graduated system of punishments enforced by ISPs on behalf of content. It was set up after the collapse of SOPA/PIPA as the White House, through Vice President Biden, mediated negotiations between groups of ISPs and content producers (primarily MPAA/RIAA).

The system mandates a series of letters telling you that you’ve been bad, demanding you take their education course explaining the impact theft has on the content industry, and so on. The final step, cutting off your Internet, is something the ISPs reluctantly signed on to, though groups like EFF question if they actually will.

EFF has two good pieces on Six Strikes from last year. The first strike notices start going out this week.


Cellphone Unlocking Petition; Next Step: White House Meeting?

The White House petition on cellphone unlocking being made illegal crossed the 100k threshold. Here’s the story.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 law referred to as the DMCA, gave the Library of Congress the authority to exempt various hacker actions like rooting, jailbreaking, or unlocking mobile devices from the copyright protections created by the DMCA.

The Library of Congress just removed unlocking from the list of exemptions. Rooting phones (but not tablets) is still allowed. Looking into what this means for app developers.

Now that the petition has passed, petition organizers hope to set up a meeting with White House staff to discuss steps forward that address community concerns.


March for Innovation: VCs, Entrepreneurs support Bloomberg on Immigration

March for Innovation is the microsite launching today by Mayor Bloomberg’s Partnership for a New American Economy, which advocates for high-skilled immigration reform, including Startup Visa, STEM Green Cards.

VCs like Ron Conway, Brad Feld, and John Doerr are supporting, as well as entrepreneurs like Jack Dorsey, Jonathan Nelson, and Seth Bannon.

They’re putting together a “virtual march on Washington” for early April, usingThunderclap to collect pledges of your social media reach. Check it out.


Quietly Writing Bills—Immigration Reform Makes Progress Behind Closed Doors

Immigration reform has gone silent. At least publicly. Here’s what’s going on.

The legislative process can be described using scrum dev. Small groups working in short iteration cycles with constant contact with the clients—in this case the individual staffers’ parent offices. Disagreements emerge and are tracked for comprehensive negotiations,not piecemeal.

Some of the negotiations I’m aware of:

  • Sen. Moran with Sen. Grassley: Over increased regulations on H-1B against outsourcing firms
  • Sen. Hatch with Sen. Moran: Over whether or not startup visa needs an entirely new visa category

We should expect these groups to have worked over the recess this past week (President’s Day, Congress gets the whole week off) and for public news to start up again this week.


#CISPA: IBM Supports, Microsoft Calls for Balance Between Privacy, Security

CISPA is a “cybersecurity” bill designed to promote and legalize information sharing between private businesses and the government to protect against threats. It has a lot of political support.

On the positive side, banks can learn about black hat attacks and common exploits. On the negative side, companies receive liability waivers protecting them against lawsuits for sharing user information in violation of their own privacy agreements. Forbes has abalanced take on the latest policy propoals.

CISPA gets put in the SOPA bucket by the Internet community. As one tweet frames it: #SOPA = Dead ✔ | #PIPA = Dead ✔ | #ACTA = Dead ✔ | #CISPA = Level 4 Boss Fight… #StopCISPA #Anonymous

Expect a quick hearing in the Intelligence Committee and a move to the House floor for a final vote in the next few weeks. Online activist groups like EFF or Public Knowledge are working to add more privacy protections.

IBM put out a statement in support, which the committee rebroadcast, while Microsoftclarified its earlier support by acknowledging privacy concerns.

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