Before you build a lobbying presence in Washington, consider the fact that technology now touches almost every aspect of our lives. Accordingly, our policymaking has become more complex as companies develop new technologies and consumers use technology in ways that were unanticipated.
What are the key issues that policymakers and businesses should be focused on as they seek to fine-tune their policy strategies? How are policymakers dealing with issues, like diversity, that policymakers have historically considered less "substantive" but which have begun to take on monumental importance in American business and politics? Why is Washington, D.C. relevant to start up and early stage ventures and how can they build a lobbying presence in Washington?
You'll get answers to these questions and more on Ep. 102!
Named a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper, Elizabeth Frazee (@EFrazeeDC) has a 30 year career in Washington. Elizabeth has worked in high-level jobs on Capitol Hill, as an entertainment executive, and policy representative of major companies.
Elizabeth interweaves a thorough understanding of policy, communications, politics and an impressive network of contacts to manage campaigns and coalitions.
A native of North Carolina, Elizabeth began her career working for her home state Senator. She then served as press secretary for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Additionally, Elizabeth ran the legislative office of then-freshman Representative Bob Goodlatte. Goodlatte now serves as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Following her time in Congress Elizabeth was director of government relations at the Walt Disney Company. There she served as the motion picture industry’s representative in Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) negotiations. Those negotiations resulted in revisions to the Copyright Act. Additionally, Elizabeth also negotiated with Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enact the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). She joined AOL in the late 90’s as vice president of public policy and ran its Congressional team. While at AOL she served on the front lines of Internet policy debates, helped AOL merge with Time Warner, and helped secure the passage of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. Then, in 2003, Elizabeth built a private lobbying practice. That practice became TwinLogic Strategies when she and co-founder Sharon Ringley launched the firm in 2009.
Elizabeth earned her law degree from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, while working full-time for Congress. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Future Crimes by Marc Goodman
Most of you are familiar by now with Google's firing of James Damore. Damore is the engineer who wrote the screed that reinforced stereotypes about women working at the company. Well, lawmakers are now urging Google to ensure its stated efforts to improve diversity lead to actual diversity. In a Medium post, Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna wrote that the incident highlights Google's diversity challenges. He called upon Google to do more. Further, eps. Jan Schakowsky, Pramila Jayapal, Jamie Raskin and Robin Kelly -- all Democrats -- also weighed in. They urged Google to address diversity more effectively. Tony Romm reports in Recode.
Disney announced last week that it would be ending its contract with Netflix in 2019. Disney plans to offer its content on its own standalone service. However, Netflix responded by signing hit showrunner Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes previously created such shows as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal for Disney. Rhimes has been a boon to Disney's ABC unit for more than a decade. Netflix is also negotiating with Disney the possibility of Netflix continuing to carry Marvel content after 2019. Meg James, David Ng and Tracey Lien report for the LA Times and Lizzie Plaugic reports for the Verge.
Several tech firms are enthusiastically lining up to support President Trump's "extreme vetting" program. Recall that on the campaign trail Trump advocated for the creation of an extreme vetting program. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE) division is now working on building the program. The program's goal is to determine, with pinpoint accuracy, which persons entering the country are most likely to engage in acts of terrorism. IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lexis Nexis, SAS and Deloitte are among the companies interested in building this out. Sam Biddle and Spencer Woodman report for the Intercept.
Benchmark Capital--a major Silicon Valley investor and Uber investor--is suing former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. In a complaint filed in Delaware, Benchmark says Kalanick deceived the board into expanding Uber's board from 8 to 11. Now, Benchmark says, Kalanick holds one of the very seats he created and is attempting to pack the board with members who are sympathetic to him. Dan Primack reports for Axios.
We reported last week that the House introduced a bill, with the support of 24 members, that seeks to curtail online sex trafficking. The bill is a response to Backpage.com, a site that hosted prostitution and sex abuse ads. Now the bipartisan bill is up to 27 sponsors. However, joining the opposition are Engine Advocacy and the Copia Institute which spearheaded a letter campaign that was signed by 30 tech companies including Kickstarter, Meetup, Medium and Reddit. They argue that the bill goes too far in restricting legal third-party content. Wendy Davis Reports in Media Post.
In today's episode we discuss the role of artificial intelligence in the future of warfare. What are the risks? How is the United States likely to fare in confrontations involving the use of AI?
In a recent paper, Center for a New American Security Fellow Greg Allen and his co-author, Taniel Chan, illustrate both the risks and opportunities for the use of AI in warfare. We discuss these findings plus lessons learned from previous revolutions in the use of military technology.
Greg Allen (@Grecory_C_Allen) is an Adjunct Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He focuses on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, and national security. Additionally, Mr. Allen's writing and analysis has appeared in WIRED, Vox, and The Hill.
In 2017, The Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs published his report entitled “Artificial Intelligence and National Security”. Allen and his co-author, Taniel Chan conducted this study on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).
Mr. Allen currently works at Blue Origin, a space exploration and technology company. Prior to working at Blue Origin, he worked at Avascent, where he advised senior executives in government and the private sector.
Mr. Allen holds a joint MPP/MBA degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Business School. Further, his Master’s Thesis was honored with the Belfer Center Award for Excellence in International and Global Affairs.
In addition, he graduated magna cum laude from Washington University in Saint Louis, where he was awarded the Arnold J. Lien prize for outstanding graduate in Political Science.
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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
If you're concerned about how federal law enforcement officials are storing your biometric data, you'd better act fast. After August 31, they will no longer have to tell you. The FBI's Next Generation Identification system stores things like iris scans and fingerprints that you gave during things like employment background checks. Currently, you can find out how the feds are storing your biometric information. However, the FBI becomes exempt from the Privacy Act provision that allows this on August 31. You can find the story in next.gov.
The Federal Communications Commission is now up to 5 Commissioners. So it finally has a full panel of Commissioners. The Senate confirmed Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr last week. Rosenworcel previously served as a Commissioner during the Tom Wheeler FCC for three years from 2012 to 2015. Carr is the the FCC's current General Counsel.
In addition, President Donald Trump had also nominated Chairman Ajit Pai. However, the Senate did not take up Pai's nomination before the recess.
The three Republicans at the Commission will now be Pai, Carr and Michael O'Rielly. And the two Democrats are Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn. Edward Graham has the story in Morning Consult.
The tech sector is opposing the GOP immigration bill President Trump endorsed last week which would cut legal immigration in half over 10 years. The so-called RAISE Act prefers highly skilled workers and English speakers and moves extended family members of immigrants to the back of the line.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC)-- the trade group that lobbies on behalf of tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and others--opposes the measure. ITIC president Dean Garfield said in a statement “This is not the right proposal to fix our immigration system because it does not address the challenges tech companies face, injects more bureaucratic dysfunction, and removes employers as the best judge of the employee merits they need to succeed and grow the U.S. economy.” Tony Romm has the story in Recode.
Meanwhile, Canada is emerging as the "New" New Colossus, welcoming Emma Lazaraus's "huddled masses yearning to breathe free". Canadian business and government leaders are seizing on the opportunity to welcome tech talent to Canada. David George-Cosh and Jacqui McNish report in the Wall Street Journal.
The tech sector is coming under increased pressure to conform to multinational norms. Paul Mozur at The New York Times reports that Apple has removed Chinese censor-evading VPN apps from its Chinese app store. Amazon also warned its Chinese customers to stop using software that evades China's Great Firewall.
Further, in Russia, Google has begun implementing terms it settled on in a dispute with its Russian competitor, Yandex. The agreement stipulates that Google would give Russians a choice of which browser to use on Android phones. In accordance with the agreement, Google began suggesting other browsers to Russian Android users last week. David Meyer reports in Fortune.
The Senate passed 6 bipartisan technology and communications bills before they departed for recess. They include bills to expand spectrum availability (MOBILE NOW Act S. 19), improve service in rural areas ( S. 96) , and make it easier to call 911 from hotel rooms (Kari's Law Act of 2017, S. 123). Congress wrote the latter bill in response to Brad Dunn's fatal stabbing of his wife, Kari Hunt, in a hotel room in Marshall, Texas as Hunt's 9-year-old daughter tried to call 911. Unbeknownst to the young girl, the hotel room phone required callers to dial 9 before 911, and she was unable to reach a dispatcher.
Other bills include:
Several advocacy groups are opposing a new bipartisan bill entitled the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017. The bill has the support of six Senators--3 Republican and 3 Democrat--including Senators Portman, McCain, Cornyn, Blumenthal, McCaskill, and Heitkamp. The new law would allow victims of sex trafficking to sue and press charges against any website that "knowingly or recklessly" enabled sex trafficking. Additionally, it would criminalize conduct by websites that “assists, supports, or facilitates a violation of federal sex trafficking laws”. Further, it would allow the states to prosecute sites under federal sex crimes laws.
Advocates argue that this new legislation would eviscerate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 shields websites from liability stemming from content posted by their users. Without section 230, these advocates say, the internet as we know it simply would not exist. Further, the advocates argue that it would simply be too risky for sites like Facebook or Twitter to host user-generated content. Sarah Jeong covers this in The Verge.
Facebook released its fourth annual diversity report. Eighty-nine percent of its workforce self-identifies as white or Asian. However, the number of women working at Facebook has increased by 2 percentage points since last year to 35%. Nevertheless, women hold just 19% of tech positions at Facebook, although the company reports that 27% of its engineering hires are women.
Looking at the senior ranks ... 70% are white, 72% are male and of the women who have cracked the glass ceiling into the c-suite, 68% are white. However, the percentage of Facebook employees who identify as black went from 2 to 3%. Hispanics when from 4 to 5%. Clare O'Connor reports in Forbes.
Blake Montgomery at Buzzfeed reports that leading fundraising platforms like PayPal, GoFundMe, and Patreon have banned or limited some members of the alt-right from using their sites.
A British researcher has demonstrated how he has been able to successfully install malware on an Amazon Echo that allowed him to eavesdrop. But the hack requires physical access to the target Echo and only works on pre-2017 Echo devices. Andy Greenberg has details in Wired.
Lobbying and advocacy is not necessarily something that most entrepreneurs think about when they venture out on their own.
Despite the fact that my business focuses on tech policy, when I launched WashingTECH.com, lobbying and advocacy couldn't have been further from my mind. I was more concerned with the minutiae: configuring and registering domains, setting up my workflow, designing my own site, etc. While I intended to include lobbyists on the podcast, I was more concerned with lobbying and advocacy issues as content. I did not remotely consider that a small business like mine would have any pull amidst the many "white shoe" lobbying firms up and down K St.: The big guns were for huge corporations, not businesses like mine.
But as I have progressed and interviewed 100 guests, I have learned that these issues indeed affect me. For example, I conduct most of my interviews via Skype. Buffering issues that I encounter during my guest interviews affect the quality of my work product, and thus my bottom line. That is a net neutrality issue. This is not "ivory tower" net neutrality. This is net neutrality from the perspective of how it affects my business.
There are literally hundreds of laws and regulations, in addition to net neutrality, that could potentially affect your business. Changes to intellectual property frameworks like trademarks, copyright and patents are federal policy issues. If you operate an online business, you are subject to all federal regulations regarding how you collect and utilize customer data, register email subscribers, and many other consumer regulations. Differences and conflicts between U.S. regulations and those abroad could affect your business to the extent that you engage with international customers.
The number of regulations, new and old, that you could be affected by are essentially limitless. Congress and the federal agencies are continuously introducing and revising policies that could directly impact your profits.
The sheer number of entrepreneurs complicates our ability to organize and respond collectively to policy issues affecting out interests. However, just as the end of World War II brought with it the need for labor organizations to advocate on behalf of the workforce, the need for effective lobbying and advocacy on behalf of entrepreneurs will also grow. These advocates must be at least as effective at representing entrepreneurs' interests as those post-war labor advocates who preceded them.
Consider the growing number of Americans who are pursuing entrepreneurship as either a supplement to or substitute for full-time income. According to the U.S. Census's 2015 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs released in July of this year:
Start-up entrepreneurs also need a place to belong. Networking and developing the right relationships is a breeze for powerful corporations. Small businesses are powerful in scale, but not as powerful in scope in terms of the expansiveness of their networks. Melissa Blaustein is working to change all that by leading lobbying and advocacy efforts for startup firms around the world. I hope you'll consider joining her in her efforts.
Melissa Blaustein (@MentionMelissa) is the Founder of Allied for Startups, a global network of startup policy associations whose goal is to make the voice of startups heard in government. Allied for Startups counts more than 19 countries on four continents as members, including 13 in the EU alone. Her background in digital policy and advocacy spans the local, national, and international levels, having held roles at The White House, UN Women, the UNEP, the G20 Research Group, with Fmr. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and on the team of many San Francisco politicians.
Melissa's entrepreneurial spirit has led her to take on challenges in the startup and technology space, including advising the French government on a taxation structure for the digital economy, serving as an ambassador at an accelerator in Paris and working at the Vice President of International Outreach at France Digitale, an association dedicated to lobbying the government on behalf of startups in France. Blaustein holds a Masters Degree Cum Laude from Sciences Po in Paris and an undergraduate degree with honors from UC Berkeley. She speaks four languages and has lived in four countries.
The 54-member House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to advance legislation to speed the commercialization of self-driving cars. The legislation would clear the way for the sale of up to 100,000 self-driving cars. It would also pre-empt state laws dealing with performance standards. States would continue to regulate things like licensing, liability, safety and insurance. David Shepardson has the story in Reuters.
Lyft announced last week that it too has created a self-driving car division. Read more from Heather Somerville in Reuters.
Members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, have asked some 22 cabinet-level government agencies for any information they have on Kaspersky Labs. Kaspersky is the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm. Several U.S. officials and members of Congress don't trust Kaspersky. They allege that Kaspersky could be a front that Russian officials use to spy on the U.S. It's an assertion that Kaspersky has vehemently denied. Dustin Voltz reports in Reuters.
The Department of Justice has indicted a Russian citizen for money laundering. The DOJ alleges that Alexander Vinnick laundered $4 billion through the digital currency Bitcoin to fund drug trafficking, identity theft and hacking. Ali Breland at the Hill reports that Vinnick was arrested in Greece for allegedly using BTC-e--one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges--to carry out the crimes.
Remember when the FCC's site went down after John Oliver urged his viewers to submit comments regarding net neutrality? Ajit Pai claimed it went down because of a DDos attack. Gizmodo said, "Yeah right" and filed a FOIA request asking the FCC to provide documentation showing it was indeed caused by a DDos attack. Well, thus far, the FCC has apparently failed to corroborate the Chairman's story. So Oregon Senator Ron Wyden took the FCC to task last week, accusing the FCC of playing "word games".
Wyden also suggested the FCC may be violating the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide the information Gizmodo seeks. If there was indeed a 3,000 percent increase in network traffic at the FCC as FCC Chair Ajit Pai claimed, why wasn't anyone at the FCC freaking out??? Surely there would have been emails. But Gizmodo hasn't found emails, or anything else for that matter, to suggest that Chairman Pai was telling the truth. The FCC's net neutrality docket has thus far received over 10 million public comments. Jon Brodkin has the story in Ars Technica.
Major tech stocks showed lower than expected results in the second quarter. Amazon took a 77% hit to profits even though its sales were up. Google's parent Alphabet's profit fell 28%. The Wall Street Journal attributes the shortfall to the $2.74 billion fine the EU levied against Google last month for allegedly pumping its own search results. And while the number of clicks per ad were up at Google, revenues per click were down. Further, Twitter's stock dropped 12%. The company also reported flat user growth, which is stuck at 328 million, and a $116 million loss.
President Donald Trump indicated that Foxconn -- the iPhone component maker-- would be spending $10 billion to build a Wisconsin plant. The president claims the plant would create 3,000 jobs. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou did join Trump, Vice President Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Wisconsin Senators Walker and Johnson at the White House. But it's not clear exactly what was discussed. Walker claims that the average job created by the plant will pay $53,000 per year.
Google announced last Wednesday that it would be spending $50 million to help workers displaced by technology to find new jobs. The company's head of philanthropy, Jacqueline Fuller, made the announcement in a blog post last week. Ali Breland has more details in the Hill.
In other Google news, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has joined the board of Google's parent company Alphabet. The move comes as Alphabet seeks to accelerate many of the other initiatives it has been working on, such as Fiber X and self-driving cars. Dieter Bohn has the story in the Verge.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and 11 members of Congress are asking the DOJ and FTC to investigate the Amazon-Whole Foods merger. The lawmakers are concerned about how the merger would affect underserved-communities' ability to access quality groceries. Many consumers live in so-called "food deserts"leaving them isolated from quality supermarkets.
Airbnb and The NAACP have teamed up to open up the Airbnb platform to underserved communities. The company has come under fire for helping to facilitate an environment in which hosts routinely refuse to rent to people of color. Some cases are more explicit than others. In California in recent weeks, a host was fined $5,000 for explicitly refusing to rent to an Asian woman for no other reason other than the fact that she's Asian. The host will also have to take a college-level racial sensitivity course. The NAACP will work with Airbnb to identify underserved areas in which residents can learn more about how Airbnb can generate extra needed income. NAACP will be compensated 20% of all revenues that come from this initiative. No word yet on how much of that extra revenue will go to fund local schools and other need services. Nick Statt has the story in The Verge.