OVERNIGHT TECH: Tech leaders call for high-skilled immigration reform

THE LEDE: Tech leaders called for high-skilled immigration reform during a meeting with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said the issue is “critical to America’s future” in a statement following the meeting.

{mosads}”I urge Congress and the President to work together in a bipartisan effort to reform policies on immigration, including meaningful reforms to hiring and retaining highly-skilled talent,” Mayer said. “Yahoo! is focused on hiring the best and brightest from around the world, and we hope U.S. laws will soon make it easier for them to work and live in America alongside the best and brightest American workers.”

That message was echoed by AOL co-founder Steve Case, who now heads up the investment firm Revolution. Case said in a statement that he was “encouraged” by the discussion at the White House.

“The President and his team listened to numerous proposals, outlined many of their own, and expressed a desire to build a bipartisan consensus regarding comprehensive immigration reform,” Case said. “I focused my comments on the reforms we need to attract and retain the world’s most talented innovators and entrepreneurs, as they have been and will continue to be critical contributors to our nation’s economic success.” 

“I look forward to doing whatever I can to help pass comprehensive immigration reform in the months ahead — and ensure it includes strong provisions regarding high-skilled immigration, so we are positioned to win the global battle for talent,” he added.

The president met with leaders of labor groups and business executives in two separate meetings at the White House on Tuesday, which were focused on discussing immigration reform, the deficit and other issues. Along with Mayer and Case, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown were also expected to attend. 

Prior to the meeting, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) voiced support for high-skilled immigration reform and said he planned to introduce a bill next week that will help attract and retain foreign entrepreneurs in the U.S.

“Foreign-born entrepreneurs in the United States have a strong record of creating businesses and employing Americans, but are many times forced to leave,” Moran said in a statement.

“It makes no sense to send these talented individuals back to their home countries to compete against American businesses. Next week, I will be reintroducing Startup Act 2.0, the only proposal on the table that includes an Entrepreneur Visa that would allow foreign-born, highly-skilled entrepreneurs currently in the United States to remain here, start a business, and employ Americans,” he said.

Langevin urges Obama to talk cyber in State of the Union: Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, urging him to use his upcoming State of the Union address to push for cybersecurity legislation. 

“I hope that you will take the unique opportunity afforded by your State of the Union address to galvanize both Congress and the public to demand immediate action to secure our country’s cyberspace,” Langevin wrote.

He applauded the president for working on an executive order on the issue, but said Congress must act to protect the nation’s computer systems from hackers. 

“Attacks against our defense industrial base, our financial services infrastructure, our free press, and even our own government networks are a daily occurrence. While none have yet caused the destruction on the scope of 9/11, the potential for such a disaster is real, and it is growing,” Langevin wrote.

FCC holds hearings on Sandy communications outages: The Federal Communications Commission held two field hearings in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to examine why communications networks failed after Hurricane Sandy. 

The storm, which slammed the East Coast last October, knocked out about one in four cell towers in its path and also damaged landline phone and cable networks, leaving many New Yorkers without any way to communicate.

“Our nation’s communications infrastructure is a vital part of our public safety and national security,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in his opening statement. “The inability to communicate with family and emergency personnel during a disaster is simply unacceptable. We must meet this moment with smart action from all sectors to ensure that communications networks are working when people need them most.” 

Communications companies, state and local representatives, public safety officials and consumers participated in the hearings. The other FCC commissioners were also present, with the exception of Robert McDowell, who was in Washington for a congressional hearing. 

Information gathered from the hearings will inform the commission’s consideration of actions to strengthen communications networks, according to an agency release. 


Rogers to discuss cybersecurity: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) will discuss cybersecurity on Wednesday morning at a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Kelsey Knight, a spokeswoman for Rogers, said the congressman will discuss the threat that American businesses face from cyber espionage by China and other countries.

“He will also discuss the importance of a cyber-threat information sharing bill that allows the US government to share cyber threat information with US businesses to better protect their networks. He will say that foreign cyber attackers are targeting every aspect of the American economy every day and Congress needs to act with urgency to protect our national security and our economy,” Knight said in an email.


Intelligence Committee to re-introduce CISPA: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he plans to re-introduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) with House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) this year. 

Ruppersberger said his staff is currently working with the White House to smooth over the concerns it had with the bill last year. The White House issued a veto threat against CISPA last spring, saying the president’s top advisers would recommend that he veto the bill if it came to his desk for his signature. 

Republicans place priority on immigration fix for high-skilled workers: House Republicans on Tuesday expressed support for a bill that would increase the number of visas and green cards available for high-skilled immigrants, with some calling for it to be moved on a faster track than broader immigration reform.

Those calls were rejected by Democrats at a House Judiciary Committee hearing. They voiced support for high-skilled immigration reform, but said it was important to fix the broken immigration system in a more comprehensive way. 

The difference highlights a challenge in the House on whether to deal with comprehensive immigration reform in a single bill or in a more piecemeal fashion. The division between Republicans and Democrats on the issue was on full display during Tuesday’s hearing.

Walden proposes Internet freedom bill: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications and Technology subcommittee, proposed legislation on Tuesday that would make it the official policy of the United States government to promote a free Internet.

Walden announced his draft bill during a hearing to scrutinize international efforts to regulate the Internet.

Facebook to alert users of ad tracking: Facebook will soon display a small blue icon on advertisements that track users as they browse the Web.

The social media company agreed this week to use the AdChoices icon, a self-regulatory program created by the Digital Advertising Alliance. The program allows users to click on the icon to opt out of online tracking.

Many Web ads already display the blue triangle icon, but the absence of the Facebook Exchange network, which serves ads to the site’s billion users, was a major gap in the program.  

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