PolitiHacks Digest – 1 April 2013 – Immigration reform (maybe Startup Visa?) approaches

These folks want your support:


  1. #iMarch—Fix immigration for startups with Mayor Bloomberg and Brad Feld
  2. Fix the DMCA—Own your electronics, legalize cellphone unlocking
  3. More privacy protections in CISPA—Protecting against black hat network intrusions shouldn’t mean trashing privacy protections
  4. Women In Tech—Crowdsourced book on struggles of women founders

Got a cause you want to share? Tell me.

Reading List:


  1. Quora: Does online activism work?—I wrote up a quick case study on SOPA activism and a primer on what works, looking forward to future issues affecting founders
  2. Forbes: Coming to America, the Five Best Visa Options for Entrepreneurs—A founder details the various visas others should consider. See also: USCIS
  3. TheVerge: Library Editorial Board Resigns Over Open Access—Affected by Aaron Swartz, the board decides its current model makes no sense, resigns in protest
  4. Bloomberg: Lobbying surges on Cyber Issues—Lots and lots of folks in DC are paying for conversations on network security; I’m keeping an eye out
  5. TechDirt: Congress Seeks to Make Bad CFAA Worse—Usual excellent reporting from Masnick
  6. BothSidesOfTheTable: Never Negotiate Piecemeal—Reviewing this classic from VC Mark Suster to understand the immigration negotiations

Political issues affecting startups: 


Immigration Reform Approaches; Will There Be A Startup Visa?

Behind closed doors, Senators and staff are writing the language that will soon serve as a baseline for public discussion on immigration reform. After being formally introduced, fixing problems in the bill becomes much harder—requires an amendment and formal vote.

Read the Suster piece to understand why these negotiations are private, as public disclosure of one point alone could blow up the entire deal.

PolitiHacks is working to make sure that any startup visa included works for founders.


Congress to Hackers: White Hat? Black Hat? What’s the Difference?

As Masnick notes, Congress recently held a hearing calling for a harsher Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The tech community widely believes that the CFAA allowed a prosecutor’s office to wreck Aaron Swartz’s life.

The major disagreement comes from the inability of large companies and governments to understand vulnerabilities of complex computing systems—there are always bugs. So they try and prevent public discussion of bugs, which imply someone screwed up. End result: white hat hackers get lumped in with black hat as ‘bad guys’ in the eyes of DC.

Expect a continuing focus on the bill over the next week or two, but the problems will take years of on-again/off-again discussion to resolve, as it is a based on a cultural divide.


Why Advocacy Shouldn’t Always Focus on Congress: Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has one section to increase the scope and length of intellectual property (IP) laws. If it emerges intact through the drafting process, the outcome would be to force Congress to implement the section, which failed to become a law through the usual process.

Many advocates target Congress with their user base, but in this case Congress is not the deciding body. That would be the obscure ITAC 15, standing for Industry Trade Advisory Committee.

These groups collect viewpoints from industry and public advocacy and develop a consensus on specific verticals, in this case IP. However, over time, the committees have been stacked with content industry supporters.

Effective advocates for the startup community must research and engage beyond Congress if we hope to well serve our members.

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