PolitiHacks Digest – 6 May 2013 – Should tech companies be fined for blocking chat surveillance?

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: Open Internet


  1. CNET: US Gov’t uses 2511 letters to authorize Internet surveillance—Declan reports on secret efforts targeting ISP carriers
  2. LA Times: CISPA dead—Internet surveillance bill will not be considered by Senate
  3. Cory Doctorow: CISPA will return—The Senate will likely debate some cybersecurity/surveillance bill, even if different from CISPA
  4. Slate: FBI wants to fine chat products without surveillance backdoors—FBI prioritizes changing laws to force compliance

And one for the road: Rude Baguette: France announces startup visa—Bringing to 10 the number of countries who have moved forward with startup visas since April 2009.

Political issues affecting startups: 


Startup Visa: Numbers check—will it work for you?
Not in the US, within three years of applying:
  • $100k in funding OR
  • $250k in annual revenue
  • Infinite renewal if within the three year length of the visa:
    • $250k in funding OR
    • $200k in annual revenue
In the US for at least two years and within three years, resulting in a green card:
  • $500k in funding OR
  • $750k in annual revenue

Especially for bootstrappers: email me your story to test edge cases.


DC Night Owls and Rep. Polis: Organizers, want to host your Congresscritter?

PolitiHacks worked with DC Nightowls to host Rep. Jared Polis last month to talk about his background as an entrepreneur with a $1B+ exit during the first bubble.

If you’re an organizer who wants to teach your congressional Represenative or Senator what startups do in your local community, PolitiHacks can walk you through the process.


FBI wants government to fine companies that don’t put backdoors into chat

The law regulating private companies’ compliance with law enforcement requests is known as CALEA. The Washington Post reports that the FBI has drafted a proposal to force tech companies to comply with allowing surveillance on chat services, as CALEA traditionally has applied to wiretaps over phone.

What I’m hearing is that Congress is jammed up right now; we’re not expecting actual legislative movement. Instead, this push by the FBI is more likely a trial balloon to gauge reactions. A strong opposition might prevent us from having to pick up a fight at the last minute, like with SOPA.


Marketplace Fairness Act (AKA Internet Sales Tax) expected to pass soon

Continuing to report from last week, the Marketplace Fairness Act would impose a federal sales tax on internet purchases. Increasingly, sales are done online rather than in “brick and mortar” stores, which has caused many states to propose sales taxes. These pushes have been defeated in the past but imply a patchwork tax structure, which would be messy.

Naturally, Internet users are strongly against the bill, which hasn’t gotten much coverage by traditional Open Internet activists. Expect this bill to pass with little trouble sometime this week.


Immigration Update: Amendments process begins

A markup is where a bill that has had hearings held gets reviewed and discussed by committee members. Some members propose changes that will make a bill politically non-viable—poison pills; others propose improvements or changes to secure one vote or more.

The immigration bill has just entered this process. Amendments must be submitted by Tuesday, the 7th, and we’re expecting many, order of magnitude 100. After that, review of the bill begins on Thursday, the 9th. We’ll be tracking closely.


Immigration Update: Additional hearings focus on startups, innovation

We’ve got two hearings on immigration reform scheduled for next week, both focusing on the economic contributions of immigrants, giving a large platform for startups to show off.

  1. Commerce
  2. Joint Economic

These hearings will highlight the stories of founders who have gotten tangled up in the current immigration system as told by a notable East Coast VC. Still waiting on confirmation on one of the hottest startup CEOs.


Zuck’s FWD.us continues controversial rollout

Members of the startup community are criticizing FWD’s advertising choices. The problem expressed is thanking elected officials supporting immigration reform expressly for supporting other policies not generally supported by entrepreneurs and tech employees, such as oil drilling.

Here’s the top pieces of those who have spoken out publicly:

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

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