“Silicon Valley execs care more about what’s happening in Shanghai than they do in Washington, D.C.,” said Ellen Miller, Co-founder and Executive Director of The Sunlight Foundation at a TechCrunch event this week. I was invited there to review Crunchgov – a new Web site to educate the Valley on the happenings in Washington and to hold elected officials accountable for their record on technology-related issues.
Motivated by their success in defeating the badly construed Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bills earlier this year, bloggers are trying to get the technology sector to start speaking up and being heard.
“The technology industry is great at getting headlines for their key issues, such as immigration reform and an open internet, but they haven’t translated that power into actually passing complex laws,” TechCrunch’s Greg Ferenstein wrote to me in an e-mail. “At best, they’ll be able to stop bad laws, but that leaves them vulnerable to the status quo on immigration, intellectual property, education and a host of antiquated policies.”
Crunchgov provides a report card for every member of the House of Representatives and some Senators, grading them on how closely their voting record aligns to the interests of the technology industry. Ferenstein says this report card was designed with the help of the Sunlight Foundation and they plan to expand the list to include the rest of the Senate. Technology lobbying groups such as The Internet Association, Technet, Engine Advocacy, and Silicon Valley Leadership Group, are polled to determine which bills are important to the tech community, and legislators are assigned grades based on their support.
Crunchgov ranks political leaders as either a technology champion or a threat.