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.
More than 200 Startups & Investors Push Back Against Immigration EOs. On Tuesday, more than 200 startups and investors from across the country joined Engine and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) in sending a letter to President Trump opposing his Executive Orders on immigration—both the immigration ban EO signed on January 27th and the draft EO that would roll back existing worker visa and parole programs. In a statement, Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom noted that “Beyond the obvious harm these policies would have on refugees, immigrants, and the U.S.'s standing in the world community, we wanted to make sure the President understood that these policies would have a major detrimental impact on entrepreneurship and innovation.” Signatories ranged from early-stage startups like NourishWise in Nashville, TN and WorkHound in Des Moines, IA, to later-stage companies like Pinterest, General Assembly, and Vimeo. The letter was also signed by almost 100 individual investors, including Ron Conway, Dave McClure, Venky Ganesan, Jeff Clavier, and William H. Draper III. The open letter can be read and signed here.
House Passes Email Privacy Act...Again. The House passed the Email Privacy Act on Monday for the second year in a row, giving the tech community and privacy advocates hope that the bill may finally become law this year. The legislation would make critical reforms to the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) by explicitly prohibiting government searches of emails and other electronic communications without a warrant. It has broad, bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, but stalled after passing the House last year due to a number of controversial amendments that were added in the Senate. Evan wrote in a statement, “We hope this is the year that privacy law finally comes out of the digital dark ages. We encourage the Senate to take up and pass the bill without any weakening amendments as quickly as possible.” We’re tracking.
Democratic Senators Hold Press Conference on Net Neutrality. “The big broadband barons and their Republican allies want to turn back the clock and make big cable and big cellphone companies the gatekeepers for internet access,” said Senator Markey (D-MA) on Tuesday, surrounded by consumer groups and startups, including Engine. Other Senators who spoke in support of net neutrality were Senators Wyden (D-OR), Blumenthal (D-CT), Franken (D-MN), and Leahy (D-VT). The heightened anxieties come as a result of new threats from a Republican-controlled Congress and White House, as well as the new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, all of whom have expressed a desire to roll back net neutrality. Senator Wyden was hopeful, reminding the group of the 4 million comments the Federal Communications Commission received in 2015 in support of classifying broadband as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. “If it comes down to the citizens and the people at the grassroots against the special interests, then we can win that," he said.
Reps. Chu and Marino Reintroduce the CODE Act. On Monday, Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Tom Marino (R-PA) reintroduced the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act or the CODE Act, a bill they coauthored last Congress. Among the provisions in the bill is a proposal to move the Copyright Office into the Legislative Branch and a detailed plan for transitioning it away from the Library of Congress. While there is consensus among stakeholders that there is a need to modernize the American copyright system, there remains dissent about how to do so. Engine, along with several allies, has vocally opposed removing the Copyright Office from the jurisdiction of the Library of Congress. Chu and Marino introduced the CODE Act just a few days after the comment period for Representatives Goodlatte (R-VA) and Conyers (D-MI)’s December copyright proposal closed. Engine joined the Re:Create coalition in submitting comments on the plan, which can be found here.
This Week’s #StartupsEverywhere Profile: Tarik Sultan in Honolulu, HI. This week, we discussed Honolulu’s burgeoning startup ecosystem with Tarik Sultan, Founder and Managing Partner of Sultan Ventures and entrepreneurial ecosystem builder in Hawaii. Learn more about how Hawaii’s unique geography, ‘aloha’ spirit, and pro-innovation policies have come together to drive a growing startup scene: read the full profile here.
Join us on MARCH 8TH for a luncheon discussion on Big Data. The event will convene policy analysts and startup leaders to discuss how Big Data is being used to have a positive, public impact. The conversation will also focus on privacy and how to best ensure data security so innovation can thrive. Lunch will be provided. Space is limited. RSVP here.