As I noted earlier this week, I represented App47 while joining over 50 other members of ACT, the App Association, on Capitol Hill. While the devil is always in the details, our goal was to be heard all over Capitol Hill through the 107 meetings scheduled.

As a group, then, we took three main issues to the Hill:

  • Privacy: Most everyone wants to do the right thing for privacy: punish poor behavior, not legislate technology. In addition, developers, product teams, and entrepreneurs need easier-to-understand guidelines for COPPA and HIPPA.
  • Patent Reform (My personal focus): Bills HR.3309 and S.1720 are working their way through the process (Need a refresher? See here). They seek to make things more balanced for entrepreneurs and those holding patents, whilst preventing patent trolls from extorting untold millions via simple demand letters. Although these bills don’t cover all the bases, they’re a great start for patent reform.
  • Internet Governance: Every day, we all depend greatly on a working internet. From getting the latest Facebook update, to conducting e-commerce or checking email, you depend on DNS. The US Government has been moving away from maintaining control of the Domain Name System for several years now. We are now at one of the last key steps by releasing control of ICANN. With one chance to get it right, we urged our delegates on the Hill to spend time on it, get it right, and not be afraid to ask for help. There is a lot at stake with this one.

With these points in mind, we took to the Hill. I had meetings with my representatives, Senator Mark Warner and Representative Jim Moran, as well as other delegates from other states. With this being my first time doing anything of the kind, I had no idea what to expect–good, bad or otherwise.

Needless to say, the experience was awesome and I can’t wait to do it again. The amount of business that happens in the cafeteria, hallways, and conference rooms was amazing. The number of people presenting their view of the world, whether it was the ACT contingency, or the National Beer Wholesalers Association (really big guys!), was incredible. We were all there to be heard.

Obviously, we won’t know if we had an impact for several months–maybe longer. However, I think my one key takeaway from this experience is that stepping up, engaging, and getting involved matters. I’m not ready to grab a picket sign and head downtown, but making sure that your voice is heard is important, and if amplified through the right channels, can really make a difference.

Lastly, I’d like to take a moment to thank the ACT organization for a great event, as well as the opportunity to participate in the ACT FlyIn 2014. Check out ACT’s Twitter at @actonline for a great recap of #ACTFlyIn.