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IT lobbyists work the Republican convention

The Republican Convention in New York, like its UK party political counterparts, is surrounded by fringe meetings where special...

The Republican Convention in New York, like its UK party political counterparts, is surrounded by fringe meetings where special interest grops vie for the attention of the power brokers.

At tech-focused gatherings in New York, industry companies, lobbying groups and politicians tackled the IT industry's legislative wish-list.

Little hard selling went on at the events honouring "high-tech champions" and members of the Congressional Internet Caucus, but some key issues were highlighted.

Sponsor TechNet focused on looming changes to accounting rules that will force companies to deduct the cost of stock options from their earnings. The proposed rule change sent shock waves through the options-reliant IT industry, many companies saying they will have to scale back employee option plans if the change is implemented.

"Options are the number one, two and three issues we're dealing with," said Rick White, president and chief executive of TechNet, a lobbying group whose 200 members include representatives from Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Cisco.

A July amendment requiring the expensing only of options given to a company's five highest-paid officers awaits the verdict of the Senate.

Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) lobbying group, which made its name as a fierce opponent of the government's antitrust prosecution of Microsoft, said intellectual property protection is critical to the IT industry's growth.

Officials of both ACT and TechNet acknowledged that technology concerns will take a back seat to national issues of security and economic policy.

"This is about the opportunity to talk with people we'll be dealing with in the fall. Education and relationship-building is the focus." Zuck said.

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service

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