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.
Tech Responds to President Trump’s Immigration EO. In a startling move after only one week in office, President Trump signed an Executive Order last Friday limiting the movement of immigrants—including lawful visa holders—and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries into the U.S. In a statement, Evan Engstrom, Engine’s executive director, said “The executive order is both morally and economically misguided, and sets a dangerous precedent that signals to the rest of the world that America is no longer open for innovation.” Hundreds of companies and organizations released statements of their objection, including Google, Apple, AirBnB, Microsoft, the Internet Association, CCIA, CTA, and TechNet. As immigrants play an essential role in building and contributing to the success of American startups, we urge our fellow members of the startup ecosystem to sign our letter to President Trump to express their opposition.
Rep. Goodlatte Lays Out Judiciary Committee Priorities. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, held a press conference Wednesday to address the committee’s goals for this Congress. Among his action items was an update to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The law, which was written well before the widespread use of email and social media, allows authorities to access emails that have been stored for more than six months without a warrant. An update bill passed the House last Congress, but stalled in the Senate. Rep. Yoder (R-KS) introduced another update bill last month, an action that Engine applauded. Other objectives for the committee include protecting inventors from patent trolling and building on the work of the bipartisan Encryption Working Group, both of which are important issues for the startup community. We’re tracking.
Senators Urge Trump to Expand Broadband Access. President Trump has signaled that addressing America’s infrastructure needs is at the top of his Administration’s to-do list. But there is one critical item missing from the infrastructure plan published during his campaign: broadband. In a letter sent on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of 48 Senators called on the President to change this, urging him to “prioritize policies as part of any infrastructure initiative that will promote deployment of high-speed, reliable broadband for all Americans.” The letter was led by the five co-chairs of the Senate Broadband Caucus, which was formed in an effort to explore policy solutions that will promote improved connectivity across the U.S. Millions of Americans still lack access to quality broadband, representing potential users and entrepreneurs who are cut off from the opportunities that connectivity provides. We completely agree with the letter’s assertion that “broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” and are hopeful that President Trump will respond to their call and include broadband access as a key component of his infrastructure efforts.
Investing in Opportunity Act Reintroduced. On Thursday, Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Ron Kind (D-WI), reintroduced the Investing in Opportunity Act, a bill that would expand access to capital for economically distressed communities. Engine welcomed the bill, noting in a statement that “the biggest challenges faced by startups in emerging communities is securing the capital needed to grow and thrive. The Investing in Opportunity Act would help to facilitate capital formation by unleashing trillions in inactive capital for reinvestment in early stage companies in the communities that truly need it — enabling aspiring entrepreneurs across the country and giving every town in America the opportunity to build its own startup ecosystem.” Learn more and read our full statement here.
This Week’s #StartupsEverywhere Profile: Scott Phillips in Tulsa, OK. This week, we chatted with Scott Phillips, Founder of Civic Ninjas and a number of other entrepreneur networks in the Tulsa startup ecosystem. Learn more how Tulsa is building on its unique policy environment and local talent to create a thriving startup ecosystem: read the full profile here.