Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Massachusetts Tech Leaders Visit US Capitol

MassTLC CEO Tom Hopcroft led a delegation of local tech leaders on our annual pilgrimage to Washington, DC, as part of a tech sector DC Fly-In event organized with our national partners, CompTIA and TECNA, to advocate on behalf of the tech community nationally.

CompTIA, the Computing and Technology Industry Association, is a national advocate for the technology industry, and TECNA, the Technology Councils of North America, is an organization of technology councils across North America.

At this year’s fly-in, MassTLC joined with 100+ tech leaders representing tech councils in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Collectively we participated in 120+ Congressional meetings on issues of importance to the tech community.

Topping our agenda for both the general conference and our individual legislative meetings were issues related to talent, such as lifting the cap on H1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers, workforce training funds for STEM, transportation (mass transit) to help connect talent to jobs, as well as the Internet of Things, Data Privacy, Smart Cities, and Net Neutrality.

In addition, we pick a priority issue each year to rally around with our TECNA counterparts and advocate simultaneously with 100+ lawmakers across the nation. This year we focused our efforts on reform and modernization of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). ECPA was originally passed in 1986, when email and text messaging were still nascent technologies, and it deemed that all stored electronic communications over 180 days old to be “abandoned.” Under ECPA, law enforcement and government agencies can acquire these abandoned emails and text messages from a service provider without a warrant, simply needing a subpoena to obtain access.

Last year, we focused our national advocacy on calling for a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which bans state and local governments from taxing Internet access charges and assessing multiple and/or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. We are pleased to join with our partners at CompTIA in applauding passage of the customs bill on February 11 – H.R. 644 the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act — which included a permanent extension of the ITFA.

The Massachusetts contingent consisted of Larry Disenhof, Group Director Export Compliance, Government relations, Cadence Design Systems; Tom Erickson, CEO, Acquia; Sara Fraim, Director of Programs, MassTLC; Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO, MassTLC; David Leiter, President & Co-Founder, ML Strategies; and Gene Lew, CTO, HeyWire.

We facilitated Hill meetings with Senator Edward Markey, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, Congressman Seth Moulton, and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’ Legislative Director, Sara Outterson.

Special thanks to CompTIA for organizing a couple dozen senior policy leaders, including Ryan Burke, Senior Policy Advisor for the White House National Economic Council, Sokwoo Rhee, Ph.D., Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems at NIST, FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, Manar Waheed, Deputy Policy Director of Immigration at the White House Domestic Policy Council, Jason Whittet, Director of Intelligent Cities at GE.

A sampling of photos follow. 

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