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Help Create An 'Innovation Agenda' You Wish Politicians Would Support

8 like 0 dislike

In the last few months it's become clear that it's no longer acceptable for politicians to "not get" the internet. The internet has become such a key part of our lives that anyone who is trying to regulate it without understanding it doesn't deserve to be in office. Of course, there are some politicians who really do want to do the right thing, and it's time to help them out. In association with Engine Advocacy, we're looking to do a little "crowdsourcing" around what an internet "Innovation Agenda" should look like for any politician in 2012. We're starting with this basic principle:

New businesses are the key to job creation and economic growth, and the Internet is one of the most fertile platforms for new businesses ever established. 

We believe deeply in the value of decentralized, emergent, bottom-up innovation, and we want to shape public policies that will allow it to flourish.

From there, we have a list of twelve topics that we think are important -- but we want your input.  Below this post, we're also posting those initial twelve topics, with each one as a separate comment, so you can vote them up and down. If you want to really participate, you can do three separate things (and, yes, your Techdirt login works here too):

  1. Suggest your own topics that should be part of an innovation agenda by responding to this main post.
  2. Vote on existing topics to show which ones are more important... and which ones are less important.
  3. Comment on the existing topics to provide feedback or suggest ways to improve them.

Please help us shape a comprehensive Innovation Agenda for 2012. Engine Advocacy is working closely with the internet community and helping give them a voice in DC, and this is one way to take part, as your suggestions may help shape what politicians are hearing.

initiated Feb 27, 2012 in Economics by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   58 99 160
   

14 Responses

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Immigration: We need make it easier for more foreign-born entrepreneurs to start businesses domestically and create jobs. A startup visa is part of the solution.

response added Feb 27, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   58 99 160
I'm not opposed to this, but it seems like a side-issue. (Also, immigration is a separate hot-button issue for some people, so it could become a "poison-pill" for this platform).
@terryhancock You're right, it IS a hot-button issue...although the rationale for that escapes me, since on a long enough time scale, we're all immigrants.

Then again, any number of other hot-button issues are distractions as well.  (I'll spare you the list.)  Should we ignore them en masse, or address them en masse?
@terryhancock is it really a "side issue?"  The focus here is on immigration for entrepreneurs, not general immigration policy.  So things like the startup visa, where it's clearly about immigrants creating new startups that create new jobs.
@mmasnick I think that dealing with immigration is inextricably linked to dealing with xenophobia, racism, prejudice, bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny.   All of these are primitive, unthinking, illogical, hateful responses to perceived threats, and unfortunately, a heck of a lot of people are dumb enough to buy into them.  I don't think this can be fixed by policy; I think it can only be fixed with time (or more bluntly, but waiting for some of the worst offenders to die off) and with strong social leadership.  We need economic, political, civic, business leaders who will use their stature and positions of privilege to drive the point home.

I'm not talking about political correctness here; I'm talking about the real, substantive issues.  Having grown up in the civil rights era of the 60's, I thought that by now all of this would be no more than a bad memory...but it seems that I will probably not live long enough to see true equality; the fight is never-ending.

So be it.  It must still be fought.  Not only is it the right thing to do, but our future success as a nation depends on it.
@mmasnick While I think immigration in general needs serious structural reform, starting with employment related improvements is a good idea. So let's start with a startup policy. Bring in job creators from other countries. Then move toward specialist policies. Bring in people with specialized skills. As we create a society built around the idea of immigration creating and sustaining jobs and the economy, people would be less adverse to general immigration reform.

It would be a long process, but it can be done. On the plus side we can add general immigration reform efforts piece by piece to these other efforts to help speed things along.
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Privacy: Policy needs to protect consumer information while also ensuring the ability of innovative start-ups to show consumers the benefits of use of data.

response added Feb 27, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   58 99 160
@mmasnick I think a good case has been made that the real issue is not privacy per-se, but the symmetric openness of information. On the internet, we are in public, and there are limits to how private that is ever going to be. On the other hand, people shouldn't be able to keep what they know about us secret from us, nor should they be able to claim any ownership of it.
@mmasnick We must recognize that people own their own (personal) information, and that they must be given control over its use, storage, sharing, etc.  Not that we should go as far as the concept of the "right to be forgotten", but I should be able to direct (for example) Target to remove all data that it holds on me, they should be compelled by force of law to comply, AND there should be penalties if they don't.

There are already penalties for the disclosure of (some) personal information (see HIPAA); those penalties should be upgraded if the information was collected without the explicit and prior consent of those it overs,and they should be upgraded again if done to support a commercial enterprise, and they should be upgraded AGAIN if this isn't the first incident involving the collector.

The default status for all government documents should be "published to the world".   Public servants must be compelled to make their case, before a board of citizens, before being allowed to change that.

Privacy policies must be accurate, brief, and understandable by citizens without law degrees.

The increasing risk of database combination (e.g., two putatively innocuous data sources are combined, allowing inferences not visible from either alone) is becoming a serious concern.  It needs to be studied, and privacy regulation crafted with it in mind.  It's no longer a theoretical problem.
@tempesfugit "Owning" the information about you is getting back into the "intellectual property" mindset, and I consider it potentially subversive to the main issues of the platform.

Once again, we're talking about a fictive "property right" which actually involves the right to invade other people's physical property and force behaviors. It's a pretty tricky issue.

I'm not totally opposed to privacy legislation, but I think we'd have to think carefully about how it could be structured so as not to endanger other kinds of freedom.
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Regulation: Ideally, going from two hackers in a garage to a functioning business with employees should be a frictionless process. But there's an incredible amount of overhead -- incorporation fees, federal taxes, state taxes, local taxes, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, health care, and so on. Certain startups may also run into regulatory concerns unique to their business. For example, AirBnB potentionally runs afoul of hotel regulation laws. Policy should streamline regulatory hurdles and make it easy for startups to anticipate regulatory risks.

response added Mar 6, 2012 by Andrew Fong (360 points)   1 1 1
@fongandrew that's a really good point, and one worth discussing.  I know it's also part of what they're trying to deal with (in part) under the Startup Act.
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Good start, there's a couple of US-centric ones in there that i didn't know enough to vote on. I'll think further and see if i can see anything missing.
response added Feb 27, 2012 by drew stephenson (3,370 points)   3 10 22
@blinddrew Well, from the context, I think this is mostly intended to be a US federal-level policy agenda, so it's going to be "US-centric". :-)

On the other hand, IP policy crosses national boundaries -- so an agenda to change IP policy will ultimately have to be an international movement.
@terryhancock Oh yes, i understand that, comment not criticism, but the transnational aspect needs to be considered. Where the US leads, other countries (particularly the UK) follow.

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