VIDEO: Tech on the Hill With Rep. Suzan DelBene

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When former Microsoft Corp. executive Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) returned for the 115th Congress, it didn’t take long for her to address one of the issues racking the tech industry: President Trump’s campaign promise to create a religious registry for Muslims in the U.S.

“This is a key area of concern given what’s happened with the recent executive order,” DelBene said, referring to Trump’s Jan. 27 entry ban on citizens and refugees of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The restrictions have tipped off a sharp outcry from an industry dependent on tech-savvy foreign-born talent.

DelBene had already revamped and re-introduced the No Religious Registry Act (H.R. 489) before the order, which would protect private sector tech workers from being required by the government to develop such a database. But she says that's just the beginning. In a two-part interview with Bloomberg BNA (Part I and Part II), DelBene outlined a tech-heavy agenda that goes far beyond the industry's interests in immigration.  

The four-term Congresswoman and co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Internet of Things Caucus said she’ll continue to educate fellow lawmakers about the internet of things, or networks of internet-connected devices that range from thermostats to traffic lights. She said she will focus on legislation that helps smart cities build those networks to improve infrastructure and operate more efficiently.

The freshman member of the House Ways and Means Committee also said she will continue her focus on updating privacy and encryption laws for the digital world. She co-sponsored the E-Mail Privacy Act (H.R. 387) again this session, which would require the government to obtain a search warrant for emails and electronic communications just as they do for physical mail.

DelBene said she’s in a unique position to understand the need for broad immigration reforms: tech and agriculture are two of the top industries in her district, which also borders Canada. The Washington representative said she will also push to grow America's digital workforce through “STEAM” education initiatives, where the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics fields are complemented by a background in the arts to promote innovative creativity and better user-design.
Watch our initial episodes of "Tech on the Hill" with Rep. Darrell Issa here.