North Carolina: Burr v. Ross
Senator Richard Burr (R)
Background: Member of U.S. Senate since 2005
Burr has drawn the ire of the tech community in recent months for his efforts to undermine encryption by sponsoring a bill effectively requiring companies to decrypt communications for law enforcement. He also opposed the USA Freedom Act, which reigned in the NSA’s surveillance powers. On telecommunications issues, while Burr has advocated for improved rural broadband access, he has staunchly opposed net neutrality, going so far as to co-sponsor the Internet Freedom Act of 2009, a bill that would have stripped the FCC of authority to pass or enforce net neutrality rules or regulate ISPs in any way. On the positive side, Burr opposed PIPA and voted in favor of the America Invents Act. His positions on high-skilled immigration and STEM education are unclear, though Burr did oppose the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013.
Representative Deborah Ross (D)
Background: Member of North Carolina State House Representative from 2003-2013
In response to Senator Burr’s controversial encryption bill, Ross made a vague statement arguing that more debate on the “complicated issue” is needed. She has said she would have supported the 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate but has said little about high-skilled immigration specifically. Her campaign website makes generally positive statements about her interest in helping small businesses and bringing jobs to North Carolina, but there’s little record to analyze on tech and startup issues.