April 28, 2016

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WIRED: Tech's Most Powerful Advocacy Group

By
Dave Toomey

The 15th annual TechNet Day was a terrific success with 27 executives making the trip to Washington, D.C., for a full day of meetings with the U.S. government's leading policymakers on our sector's most pressing issues. 

To kick off the morning, three of TechNet's Executive Council members — Brad Smith of Microsoft, Ron Klain of Revolution, and John Chambers of Cisco — went live from the St. Regis Hotel with the hosts of CNBC’s Squawk Box and guest host former Texas Governor Rick Perry.  The interviews laid out the agenda that we brought to the White House and the Hill — that U.S. policymakers can and should help advance our global competitiveness and foster American innovation by passing international tax reform, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and immigration reform, and by funding computer science education and increasing global trust in American technology.

Following the general membership meeting, we heard from two of the nation's preeminent pollsters — Glen Bolger and Geoff Garin — who gave their unvarnished take on this unprecedented political season.  Glen Bolger provided a deep dive on the state of the Republican Party, while Geoff Garin did the same for the Democratic Party.

TechNet executives then met at the White House with senior advisors to President Obama.  Our discussion focused on the technology industry's role in American job creation, our support of the President's efforts to expand computer science and STEM education and pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and working together this year to smoothly transition a sound tech policy agenda to the next president.

Following the White House, we made our way over to Capitol Hill for the bulk of our TechNet Day meetings.

Each of the Capitol Hill discussions were wide ranging and included robust discussions on our top priorities: passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, international tax reform, and high-skilled immigration reform, the expansion of computer science education, and the commercial and national security value of trusted technology.

First up was lunch with a group of the most talented young House members on both sides of the political aisle.

Next, we met with Democratic members in both the House and Senate.  In all, our group spoke with 16 Democratic Senators and 10 Democratic Representatives.

Then, we walked over to the Senate side of the Capitol complex, where we had back-to-back meetings with Senate and House Republicans.  Over the course of those two meetings, we met with 14 Republican Senators and seven members of the Republican House leadership team.

In addition to these productive meetings, we had the privilege of being on Capitol Hill for two historic votes: House passage of both the Email Privacy Act (HR 699) and the Defend Trade Secrets Act (S. 1890).  Passed by a vote of 419-0, the Email Privacy Act modernizes the Electronic Communications Privacy Act 30 years after it became law.  The Defend Trade Secrets Act strengthens the remedies available to trade secret owners to prevent and, if necessary, punish trade secret theft.

The day was capped off with a panel discussion and reception with the Washington Diplomatic Corps at Blair House organized by Ambassador Peter Selfridge, Chief of Protocol of the United States.  Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, moderated the panel discussion with Michael Bell of Silver Spring Networks, Ellen Richey of Visa, and Brad Smith of Microsoft.  A number of ambassadors attended the discussion, which focused on innovation in the global economy, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman joined us for the reception that followed.

Thank you to our generous TechNet Day sponsors: Cisco, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Microsoft, Motor Vehicle Software Corporation, Oracle, Bloom Energy, CA Technologies, TechNexus, and Visa.

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