Startup News Digest 12/1/17

Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy. To receive this weekly digest in your inbox, sign up at

The Big Story: The next phase of the net neutrality fight. While most people were preparing for Thanksgiving last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released his plan to roll back the 2015 net neutrality rules, teeing up an agency vote on the order in mid-December, where he’s expected to get the necessary support from the commission’s other two Republicans to pass the proposal.

Despite the input from startups, investors, engineers, and Internet users that urged the FCC to maintain the current protections, Pai’s plan guts the agency’s rules that prohibit ISPs from blocking or slowing Internet access to certain websites or services and charging websites for better access to users. “Chairman Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order offers freedom only to Big Telecom,” Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom said in a statement. “For companies that do business on the Internet, this change in regulation will bring increased uncertainty in their ability to access their users as they have under the current rules.”

We’re collecting input from startups who depend on net neutrality protections and an open Internet to do business. Share your story, and make sure your lawmakers know how invested you and the other innovators they represent are in this issue.


What’s Happening in Policy:

Another online surveillance bill. The House Intelligence Committee quickly introduced and passed a bill this week to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, an expiring and controversial surveillance law that could undermine trust in U.S. companies abroad (as Kate explained in a new op-ed in The Hill). The House Judiciary Committee has already moved its own version of reauthorization bills with privacy-boosting measures.

SCOTUS hears cell phone privacy case. The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in the case Carpenter v. U.S., a case centered around whether the government violated the Fourth Amendment by getting an armed robbery suspect’s location information from his cellphone company.

And a patent case too. The Supreme Court also heard arguments in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group, a case questioning the validity of a Patent and Trademark Office process for challenging a patent after it has been issued. We joined other groups in an amicus brief defending the process last month.

Senate hears from PTO Director nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing this week that included testimony from Andrei Iancu, the nominee to lead the Patent and Trademark Office.

Coinbase ordered to turn over user records. A federal court ordered Coinbase to turn over to the IRS information about more than 14,000 users who have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 in a year between 2013 and 2015.


Startup Roundup:

  • Midwestern appeal. The New York Times examines the Midwest’s draw for entrepreneurs and investors.

  • The Motor City. VentureBeat takes a look at Detroit's transition from auto manufacturing hub to transportation startup hotspot.

  • Startups for peace. The U.S. Institute of Peace has an accelerator for startups who promote peace and are looking to scale.