PolitiHacks Digest – 8 April 2013 – Annual H-1B cap reached within days, SEC greenlights AngelList & FundersClub

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
  5. Fix the CFAA—Beat back a bad proposal to expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (Internet Defense League alert)

Got a cause you want to share? Tell me.

Reading List:

  1. The Hill: Amendment proposed to CISPA, seeks improving privacy protections—Rep. Adam Schiff seeks to have companies be responsible for removing personally identifiable information from any data they share with the government.
  2. The Hill: Google fights secret subpoena—National security letters demand information from companies and forbid telling anyone that you’ve received such a letter. They’re of questionable constitutionality, courtesy of EFF.
  3. Politico: More on the Zuck-funded advocacy group—I read this article as demonstrating the culture gap between politics and tech. Politics is not impressed so far.
  4. TechCrunch: Zuck group has nothing to ‘regret’—And here’s tech’s response. They’re quite a bit more positive.
  5. BusinessWeek: Canada’s Startup Visa launches—I’ve been tracking this for a bit; there’s not much new, but Canada is making the most out of the relaunch of the program.
  6. Code For America: Annual Report—City by city, Code for America is bringing technology to governance, very cool.
  7. PandoDaily: Upworthy nails viral for serious business—Upworthy spreads political messages through ultra-effective use of viral mechanisms. Definitely folks to watch.

Political issues affecting startups: 

Skilled worker annual caps reached in five days

Congress makes 65,000 H-1B visas available each year for high-skilled workers, generally meaning bachelors degrees, plus 20,000 extra visas for masters and PhDs. Government work and non-profits are exempt.

Broadly tracking the unemployment rate, inversely, the cap was reached within days in 2007 and 2008, while there were no problems in 2009 or 2010. Last year, the cap was reached in June.

H-1Bs are not particularly useful to founders, but from early employees on, these are the only visas available. As a result, startups will be limited from hiring non-Americans for the rest of the year.

I’m also looking into reports that larger companies with steady hiring cycles reserve large batches of H-1Bs for their annual needs.

SEC to AngelList, FundersClub: We’re okay with your funding models

Even sticking to high net-worth individuals, called qualified investors, there have been lingering questions about the legality of fundraising using the Internet as your platform. The SEC has just put to rest most of those questions by telling AngelList and FundersClub that “it won’t pursue enforcement action,” aka accuse those platforms of violating finance laws.

Expanding beyond qualified investors, called crowdfunding, has been authorized by the JOBS Act, but the regulations legalizing crowdfunding have been blocked up behind the much-delayed implementation of a 2010 law, called Dodd-Frank.

Cybersecurity supporters insist on closed door meeting for final legislative milestone

A markup is the final legislative milestone a bill goes through where major changes can be easily made. Following a successful markup, a bill gets a series of votes on passage. SOPA was stalled at its markup, after being jammed with 70+ amendments.

The cyber bill, CISPA, is approaching its Wednesday markup, but its supporters are calling for a closed door session, meaning no broadcast, no access to the public. This is minimally acceptable because the Intelligence Committee, overseeing the bill, routinely holds closed sessions, unlike other committees.

However, CISPA opponents (including PolitiHacks) have raised numerous concerns about privacy protections. An open session is being requested to debate these concerns, while the committee counters that a closed session is necessary as classified information may be discussed.

Republican election committee goes Buzzfeed: 13 animal pictures, Obamacare

Republicans noted that they weren’t using tech effectively during the last election cycle. So they turned to Buzzfeed as a model for getting people to pay attention to and share political pieces. Here’s one of their notable early results: 13 Animals That Are Really Bummed on ObamaCare’s Third Birthday

Yes, it’s silly. But they’re starting to pick up some best practices, like a share bar that scrolls with the page. If you’re a growth hacker interested in dabbling in politics, the 2014 cycle should have some fun opportunities to change how people interact with their politics.

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