Mark Albertson notes in a new column that in a tech industry “that’s always been about ‘getting results,'” not a single of their trade groups can point to “any specific, enacted legislation that was successfully passed in support of their cause” this year. He wonders if this is because Silicon Valley isn’t lobbying enough or just isn’t lobbying effectively.
He makes a good case that quantity isn’t the problem. Tech companies have hundreds (thousands?) of lawyers and lobbyists, and that’s not to mention other organizations they use to influence politics. And, within that cohort, there’s likely some quality talent. So maybe it isn’t necessarily that they aren’t lobbying enough or effectively. Maybe the core people in tech — not the lobbyists and lawyers but the owners and supposed visionaries — aren’t engaged enough to achieve their goals.
Ironically, from my point of view down here on the ground, I still don’t believe they are effectively joining with policymakers enough. It’s still a quantity and quality problem.
Albertson details the fragmentation within various tech interest groups. I’m thinking leaders in tech aren’t teaming up because they’ve yet to realize that they can influence general technology-related legislation more together than apart. If your standard operating procedure is to focus on your company, your product and your bottom line, you’re likely to miss out on the opportunities alliances can bring in the policy sphere.
Further, the libertarian ethos of so many Silicon Valley elites may be limiting their view of how they can influence government policy — assuming they want anything to do with it in the first place. We can once again look to companies that have deployed their products and services (Uber, SideCar, Lyft) in the face of laws prohibiting such.
Others are likely afraid to jump in the hot waters of the culture wars. Look at what happens to them when they come out in favor of equal rights. Many times, when they do stick their fingers into the political world, they make ridiculous statements that lead to them being sacked at their own companies. Better to hermetically seal oneself in a silicon bubble than get poked by societal norms.
Also, no one likes smarmy wiseasses who think they’re geniuses because they created a calorie-counting app.
Maybe they have no legislative achievements to point to because they haven’t truly committed to the process. So far, they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to the table to work with the government — unless, that is, they’re giving them our personal information.