PolitiHacks Digest – 29 April 2013 – Immigration and Startup Visa: The Legislative Grind Ahead

These folks want your support:


  1. #iMarch—Fix immigration for startups with Mayor Bloomberg and Brad Feld
  2. CISPA Letter—We can have privacy and security both, says DuckDuckGo

Got a cause you want to share? Tell me.

Reading List—Theme: Political Process


  1. Eric Redman’s The Dance of Legislation—Become an educated layman on the workings of the US Senate with this quick read about passing one interesting bill
  2. Taegan Goddard’s Glossary: Markup—The big immigration bill is entering this stage of the legislative process
  3. Fred Wilson’s AVC: Immigration Reform—Fred calls on the startup community to support comprehensive immigration reform; only way to get reform through

And one for the road: The Register: UK passes sweeping “orphan works” bill—UK switches from a status quo where you own what you upload by default to one where you need to register each work. Something to watch out for here in the US.

Political issues affecting startups: 


Immigration reform enters Step 3 of legislative process: What to expect

After over 10 hours of hearings last week, expect the Senate Judiciary Committee to bring the immigration bill into markup after the Senate returns to work. Markup is where the bill is closely reviewed by staff and Senators, who are privately negotiating for votes and publicly presenting amendments to be considered.

This process will stretch through all of May before the committee holds a final vote to send the bill to the Senate floor.


Commerce committee to discuss immigration’s impact on innovation

Expect startup founders to be featured in an upcoming hearing to demonstrate first-hand experience grappling with the immigration system. We’ll have more details about the hearing in next week’s digest, as PolitiHacks is working with Senate staff to set it up.


Zuck-funded FWD.us attracts criticism for first round of ads, supporting drilling

Quartz and PandoDaily are two of the publications on many startups’ read lists, and both noted the dissonance between Zuck calling for the transition away from an oil-based economy to FWD’s first ad buy praising Senators for their support for more drilling.

Politically, if an issue has supporters and opponents with strongly held beliefs, advocates will run ads on other issues while privately connecting that support to votes on their key issue. While side-stepping a rational argument on the key issue’s merits can be distasteful, these ads can be effective.

In the case of immigration reform, conservatives will be the determining factor on whether or not the bill passes. Their base is unlikely to be won over to support the bill, which likely drives FWD’s decision-making process.

(Full disclosure: PolitiHacks is consulting for FWD.us)


Avoid Path’s $800k fine; new privacy rules for minors released

The Federal Trade Commission fined Dave Morin’s Path a hefty $800k back in February for violating privacy laws protecting minors, called COPPA. Now, they’ve updated the rules; here’s their FAQ


Internet sales tax approaches a final vote

The Marketplace Fairness Act would apply a federal tax to an sales done through Internet vendors, such as Amazon. Traditionally, such sales taxes are levied by states, who are proposing a patchwork of state Internet sales taxes that the federal tax would preempt.

The problem is that brick and mortar stores are a single point of sale tied to a geographic location. When it comes to an Internet purchase, is it the location of your computer? The distributor? The headquarters of the seller? And so, faced with such a problem, e-commerce has avoided taxation since its inception.

Since e-commerce represents an ever growing percentage of total sales, pressure has been growing in recent years to resolve the issue. The political question is increasingly: should an Internet sales tax be a state or federal tax, rather than should Internet sales be taxed?


Digital privacy improvements gain committee nod; floor vote is next, but when?

The Senate Judiciary committee recently considered a bill to expand digital privacy rights, reforming the existing 1986 ECPA law that establishes certain limited privacy protections before the Internet went mainstream. The bill received a successful vote to be favorably sent to the Senate floor.

A few Senators expressed concerns, despite their yes votes, seeking to make it easier for law enforcement to continue to gain access to requested data. Politically, that may translate to NO votes on the Senate floor, as such changes are anathema to supporters.

The next step is for the bill to be scheduled for a final vote, and we’re waiting on the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Reid, to decide when that will take place.

(Full disclosure: PolitiHacks is consulting on this bill)

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