Here, we analyze Hillary Clinton’s track record on the five issues most important to the startup community
Since Hillary Clinton announced on Sunday that she will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency in 2016, Geektime decided to review her positions on policy issues that are dear to the tech community’s heart.
1. Net neutrality
The issue: Net neutrality is the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. No one should be given faster access or charged more based on their content, site, platform, etc. It tends to be favored by companies that make money from distribution of content, and opposed by companies that serve as carriers of the content (such as ISPs or telecom companies) or those that would benefit from a private fast-lane information superhighway.
Where she stands: She is in favor of net neutrality and supported the FCC’s new rules to reclassify broadband as a utility.
2. Immigration of tech workers
The issue: Many tech companies would like to relax the rules for H-1B visas from abroad so they have a bigger pool of talented workers to choose from. Many American workers naturally don’t want the extra competition.
Where she stands: At a San Francisco conference last year, Clinton reportedly agreed with a questioner that there is a need for more H-1B visas in the near future. But she also suggested using money from Silicon Valley to help colleges and universities assist Americans in filling those jobs in the long run. But she also described U.S. openness to immigrants as “one of our competitive advantages around the world.”
3. Equity crowdfunding
The issue: The 2012 Jobs Act promised to make it easier for startups to raise money from regular Joes and Janes through equity crowdfunding, sort of like raising money on Kickstarter, but with stocks. Who is for it? Seemingly the whole startup world. Who is against it? People who believe it is the SEC’s job to protect non-rich people from losing their life’s savings on high-risk investments.
Where she stands: We don’t know: She was not in the Senate when this act was passed, and she has no record of commenting on the issue.
The issue: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) were introduced in the U.S. House and Senate respectively in 2011 to make it harder for websites, especially those outside the U.S., to sell and distribute copyrighted material. On January 18, 2012, the English Wikipedia, Google and thousands of other tech websites staged a coordinated blackout of their services, and the resulting uproar led the twin bills to be quickly shelved.
Movie studios, record labels, filmmakers, musicians, writers and other content creators whose livelihood depends on enforcement of copyright were in favor of the bill, whereas tech companies like Google and free information enthusiasts were against it: They also happen to earn money when piracy sites infringe copyright.
Where she stands: Although she did not explicitly endorse SOPA, she did say in reference to it that “there is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the internet,” which some proponents read as a tacit endorsement of the bill.
The issue: In her video announcing the campaign, Clinton made inequality a central issue of her platform. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.” But many of the nation’s most recent 1 percenters have earned their wealth in high tech.
Where she stands: In a speech to a group of women in Silicon Valley two months ago, Clinton said, “wages no longer rise with productivity, while C.E.O. pay keeps going up,” she said. “We have to figure out how to make this new economy work for everyone. In many ways our economy seems to be still operating like it’s 1955.”
She called for policies including paid leave, a higher minimum wage, and incentives for corporations to provide better wages and benefits to workers. Some critics called her out for hypocrisy, noting that she had been paid $300,000 to speak at the conference.
Featured Image Credit: Brett Weinstein / Creative Commons