PolitiHacks Digest – 10 June 2013 – What are the politics of the NSA surveillance leaks?

These folks want your support:


  1. EFF: Oppose massive government surveillance program
  2. Support Sen. Moran’s startup visa amendment
  3. Lincoln Labs—Local to the Bay Area? Check out this politically-themed hackathon focusing on economic liberty

Got a cause you want to share? Tell me.

Political issues affecting startups: 


Open Internet and Privacy

What’s going on with the NSA surveillance programs?

The Washington Post dropped a bombshell that the government was engaged in a massive surveillance program (PRISM) with the compliance of major US tech companies. Opponents are in an uproar; expect another clash between open internet, national security.

Background: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Scandal of 2005-6, National Security Letters and the oddly similar Google, Facebook, Apple denials

What to know:

  1. Tech companies respond to online outrage over PRISM
  2. Verizon metadeta collected in separate, but related, surveillance program
  3. Coincidentally, President Obama’s nominee to be the new FBI Director opposed PRISM predecessor programs as No. 2 to the Attorney General in 2004
  4. PRISM whistle-blower Edward Snowden seeks asylum in Hong Kong

People to Watch:

  1. Sens. Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), long-time defenders of privacy, speak out against NSA program
  2. Sen. Paul’s (R-KY) proposal to block secret NSA surveillance programs through requiring warrants splits Republican Party
  3. Sen. Udall (D-CO) explains constraints in opposing top-secret programs without becoming a whistle-blower
  4. Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Rogers (R-MI), Chairs of the Senate and House Intellgence Committees, defend the programs as effective counter-terrorism
  5. President Obama contrasts metadeta collection with direct content collection
Immigration
PolitiHacks Analysis:

  1. What should we expect from the immigration debate?
  2. What are the chances for startup visa? What are the range of implementation outcomes?

What to Know:

  1. Immigration debate begins in Senate on Tuesday
  2. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announces support for comprehensive bill: First official support outside Gang of Eight
  3. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) readies amendment to improve startup visa provision in the immigration bill

People to Watch:

  1. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)—Cornyn’s border security proposal may gain Gang of Eight approval or be “poison pill” that kills the bill; Cornyn is a key potential YES vote
  2. Sens. Sessions (R-AL) and Cruz (R-TX) are leading the opposition—intra-party fight with Republican supporters of the immigration reform bill
Patents and Intellectual Property
  1. Earlier this week, the White House announced a proposal to oppose patent trolls, organizations that collect large numbers of patents to drive lawsuits rather than to produce products based on the intellectual property.
  2. Patent trolls-driven lawsuits have been on the rise since the 2011 passage of the America Invents Act
  3. Last week’s cellphone unlocking hearing drove forward the Goodlatte-Conyers bill, which solely reverses the illegaliztation decision on unlocking by the FCC. The proposal favored by the startup community makes a permanent fix to the underlying law.
Elections and Campaigns
  1. Rand Paul visits Silicon Valley, talks up privacy issues as key to expanding Republican Party, making it more acceptable to tech savvy
  2. FWD.us runs VoIP-facilitated Congressional contact campaign to support comprehensive immigration reform on behalf of tech, startup communities
  3. Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani is running for Office of Public Advocateand will be holding a fundraiser in Palo Alto in late June
  4. President Obama visited Palo Alto last Thursday for two fundraisers—the first at the home of Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, the second at the home of Vinod and Neeru Khosla
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