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Policy

Big Tech gets a win from Biden’s sweeping immigration actions

Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai praised President Biden's immigration actions, which read like a tech industry wishlist.

Big Tech gets a win from Biden’s sweeping immigration actions

Newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden signed two immigration-related executive orders on Wednesday.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Immediately after being sworn in as president Wednesday, Joe Biden signed two pro-immigration executive orders and delivered an immigration bill to Congress that reads like a tech industry wishlist. The move drew enthusiastic praise from tech leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

President Biden nullified several of former-President Trump's most hawkish immigration policies. His executive orders reversed the so-called "Muslim ban" and instructed the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the Trump administration had sought to end. He also sent an expansive immigration reform bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals and make it easier for foreign U.S. graduates with STEM degrees to stay in the United States, among other provisions.

Biden's Day One moves suggest that immigration reform will be one of the key areas for allyship between Silicon Valley and the Biden administration over the next several years. The industry is sorely in need of common ground as Democrats pledge to use their power over Congress and the White House to crack down on Big Tech.

"We welcome President Biden's commitment to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform that reflects the American values of justice, fairness and dignity," said Cook in a statement to Protocol. "This effort will strengthen American communities and the pathways to opportunity this country has long fostered."

Cook, who is the chair of Business Roundtable's immigration committee, said he looked forward to working with Democrats and Republicans on a "permanent solution for Dreamers that includes a path to citizenship."

"We applaud @POTUS's quick action on COVID relief, the Paris Climate Accord, and immigration reform," Pichai tweeted Wednesday. "Google has supported action on these important issues & we look forward to working with the new administration to help the US recover from the pandemic + grow our economy."

An Uber spokesperson also affirmed the company's support for President Biden's actions. "At Uber, we have long supported positive immigration reform and an effective system that upholds core American values," the spokesperson said. "Uber will continue to support Dreamers, and we welcome the new Administration's effort to reform our nation's immigration system."

The tech industry, which relies heavily on foreign workers, has spent the last four years battling with the Trump administration over efforts to shut down vital talent pipelines from countries including India, China and Iran. Over the last four years, tech giants have filed amicus briefs in high-profile court cases and lobbied in favor of opening up U.S. borders to high-skilled workers. Despite protestations from Silicon Valley leaders, the Trump administration continually added uncertainty to the H-1B visa application process, resulting in significant backlogs.

Biden's immigration bill would put money towards clearing visa backlogs, eliminate visa caps on certain countries and make it easier for people on temporary work visas to get green cards. Perhaps most significantly, it would immediately give the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a pathway to become citizens.

The executive orders on DACA and the Muslim ban will immediately appease immigration advocates, including those inside the tech industry, but the toughest battle still lies ahead: rallying support in Congress for immigration reform, which has failed for years. Still, there may be some in the Republican party who are willing to work with the Biden administration on key pillars of the proposal. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was a leading player in immigration talks during the Obama years and a top Trump ally, told CBS he is open to creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"What we are really looking for is making sure there is congressional action and there is a legislative solution," said Karolina Filipiak, senior director of government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council, a tech trade group. "We don't want to be in the same position four years from now or eight years from now [with] a new administration that could rescind the program."

Companies including Facebook and Google are hoping to work with lawmakers in Congress to create bipartisan support for reform, particularly as they face regulatory headwinds of their own.

People

No editing, no hashtags: Dispo wants you to live in the moment

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Dispo turns the concept of a photography app into something altogether different.

Image: Katya Sapozhnina, Diana Morgan, Amanda Luke

Instagram was once a place to share Starbucks cups and high-contrast pet photos. After Facebook acquired it in 2012, it has turned into a competition of getting as many likes as possible (using the same formula over and over: post the best highly-curated, edited photos with the funniest captions). More recently, it's essentially become a shopping mall, with brands falling over themselves to be heard through the noise. Doing something "for the gram" — scaling buildings, posting the same cringe picture over and over — became the norm. Pop-up museums litter cities with photo ops for posts; "camera eats first"; everything can be a cute Instagram story; everything is content.

And to be clear, Dispo — a buzzy new photography app that just came out of beta — is still a place for content. It probably isn't going to fix our collective online brains and their inclination to share everything about our private lives with others online. It's still an app, and it's still social media, and it encourages documenting your life. But it runs pretty differently than any other image-sharing app out there. And that might be what helps it stand out in an oversaturated market of social networking apps.

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Jane Seidel

Jane Seidel is Protocol's social media manager. She was previously a platform producer at The Wall Street Journal, creating mobile content and crafting alert strategy. Prior to that, she worked in audience development at WSJ and on digital editorial at NBC Universal. She lives in Brooklyn.

Sponsored Content

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How Stripe, Xero and ModSquad work with external partners and customers in Slack channels to build stronger, lasting relationships.

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Every business leader knows you can learn the most about your customers and partners by meeting them face-to-face. But in the wake of Covid-19, the kinds of conversations that were taking place over coffee, meals and in company halls are now relegated to video conferences—which can be less effective for nurturing relationships—and email.

Email inboxes, with hard-to-search threads and siloed messages, not only slow down communication but are also an easy target for scammers. Earlier this year, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages.

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Image: Clayton Cardinalli

A new company backed by Michael Bloomberg's daughter Emma Bloomberg has been quietly buying political tech firms and going on a hiring spree, as it seeks to create a digital organizing platform that operates "outside of a traditional 'Red/Blue' partisan paradigm."

Neither the existence of the firm, called simply Tech co. for now, nor its high-profile funder have been previously reported, though it's been up and running for at least a year. But a spate of recent job listings seeking data scientists, behavioral scientists and engineers have circulated through the insular political tech whisper mill, sparking curiosity as the startup prepares to emerge from stealth mode this spring.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Politics

A Macedonian misinfo site ruled Parler before the Capitol riot

According to new data, some 87% of all news links on Parler leading up to Jan. 6 were from misinformation sites.

Before the Capitol riot, some 87% of news links on Parler led to known misinformation sites.

Photo: Parler

In the week leading up to the riot inside the U.S. Capitol, a whopping 87% of all news links on Parler led to known misinformation sites, according to a new report from the news rating firm NewsGuard and analytics firm PeakMetrics.

The report quantifies just how polluted the information landscape was on Parler in January, before it was unceremoniously deplatformed by Amazon. This week, the app relaunched following a month-long hiatus, with few guardrails in place to prevent history from repeating itself.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
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