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Obama popular in tech world, policies less so

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm •  Published: May 8, 2014
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So far this election cycle, computer and Internet industry political action committees have contributed about $3.5 million, with about 54 percent of it going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money. Counting political action committees and individual donors, the industry has donated more than $14 million to federal candidates, giving $3 to Democrats for every $2 to Republicans, according to the center.

The revelations of National Security Agency data collection made public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have prompted an outcry from tech companies whose data have been gathered by the government. Obama has had to reassure Internet and tech executives that he is committed to protecting privacy.

In addition to cybersecurity, Silicon Valley executives also have been pushing for an overhaul of immigration laws, partly to secure more H1B visas for high-tech workers but also in support of giving immigrants who are living in the country illegally a chance to achieve citizenship. They have also weighed on new "net neutrality" regulations being fashioned by the Federal Communications Commission and have raised fears that the rules would allow telephone and cable Internet providers to impose fees on Internet companies.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the tech executives were donating because they support Obama policies. He rejected suggestions that the tech executives were getting financial leverage to affect Washington issues of concern to the industry.

"There's no reason to think that the policymaking process is affected by those involved," Earnest said..

Among the major tech players, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has been an especially high-profile figure. He launched an advocacy group that has been among the most active on the immigration issue.

And he has been a vocal critic of the NSA's data collection, calling Obama to voice his alarm. Shortly after, Obama met with Zuckerberg and CEOs from Google, Netflix and other tech and Internet companies, pledging to safeguard privacy rights.

The administration has since issued recommendations asking Congress to pass new privacy laws that would provide broader data protections for Americans from both the government and the private sector.

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