Startup News Digest 12/22/2017

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 http://engine.is/digest

From now until the end of the year, Engine is doing a roundup of all of the issues important to startups in 2017 and predicting where we will go in 2018. You can check out the first three here: #StartupsEverywhereImmigration, and Telecom. Stay tuned for Capital Access, Privacy and Security, Intermediary Liability, and Patents next week.

 

The Big Story: Congress averts funding, and spying, shutdown. Late Thursday, Congress passed a bill to fund the government through January 19, averting a government shutdown this week. The bill also includes a provision that extends until January 19 authority for surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law that houses controversial online spying programs and that was set to expire at the end of the year.

The debate over Section 702 spying will have lasting impacts for companies that have users abroad, especially startups that rely on international agreements to legally access users’ data, and Engine has supported pro-privacy reforms to the law. The measure’s inclusion in the larger funding bill came after House members attempted to push ahead with a vote on a controversial 702 renewal bill that could have expanded Section 702 surveillance. With a new mid-January expiration date, the debate is sure to pick back up once Congress returns in the new year.

 

What’s Happening in Policy:

Tax reform crosses the finish line. President Donald Trump signed into law the Republican tax bill that lowers the corporate tax rate, transitions to a territorial system, and allows companies to reinvest their overseas profits here at home. Additionally, the final package included language from the Empowering Employees Through Stock Ownership Act, which allows employees to defer from income inclusion their vested stock options for up to five years after they have exercised. The final package abandoned the Senate’s initial plan to include measures to tax stock-options when they are vested rather than when they are exercised.

Net neutrality fight heats up on the Hill. The FCC pushed through their net-neutrality killing measure last week, but the battle for net neutrality isn’t over. This week, 26 Senators signed on to a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a vehicle to overturn the FCC’s recent net neutrality ruling. And read our latest post on the issue, where we separate fact from fiction. 

New House Judiciary top Democrat. Congressman Jerry Nadler was selected to be the House Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member this week after the resignation of Rep. John Conyers, left a vacancy at the top job. We look forward to working with Nadler as he continues his efforts on patent reform, immigration, and modernizing our copyright system.

PTO Director confirmed. The Senate this week confirmed Andrei Iancu to be the new Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Startup Roundup: 

  • #StartupsEverywhere: Buffalo, NY. Our latest installment of #StartupsEverywhere looks at startup-drawing competition 43North.
  • 2017’s 57 Unicorns. This year was the third busiest year for startups reaching a $1 billion valuation. 
  • Startups at CES. Be sure to attend and check out all of the great startups exhibiting in Eureka Park at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.