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.
Trump Asks Supreme Court to Revive Travel Ban. The Trump Administration has petitioned the Supreme Court to revive his immigration travel ban after yet another court blocked the effort last week. In a 10-3 ruling, a federal appeals court in Richmond, VA upheld an earlier Maryland ruling that suspended key parts of the Executive Order, which would would prevent entry for immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries and ban refugees from around the world. In response, President Trump has filed an appeal and asked the high court to temporarily lift the freeze. Trump will need the votes of five of the nine justices to stay the lower court orders and just four votes to add the case to the court’s docket. The startup community has pushed back against the President’s ban, with more than 300 startups and investors calling the it “morally and economically misguided” in a February letter to the President. We’re tracking.
Supreme Court Delivers Another Meaningful Patent Victory. On Monday, the Supreme Court decided Impression Product Inc. v. Lexmark, holding that the printer company, Lexmark was pushing patent law too far in trying to restrict another company, Impression Product, Inc., from selling replacement cartridges for its printers. The case impacts startups by giving more rights to resellers, refurbishers, and tinkerers of patented products. The ruling will also prevent manufacturers from forcing consumers to buy supplies only from the original source. For the second time in two weeks, the Supreme Court has handed down victories for the tech community, ensuring that innovation can continue to happen without restrictive patent laws.
Democratic Senators Urge FBI to Investigate FCC Cyberattack. On Wednesday, a group of Democratic Senators sent a letter to acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, asking him to determine the source of the distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s website last month. On May 8, following the opening and subsequent crashing of a comment form on the commission’s plan to roll back Obama-era open internet regulations, the FCC claimed it had been the victim of multiple DDoS attacks resulting in a malfunction of its electronic filing system. Many blamed the issue on a wave of comments resulting from a Last Week Tonight segment on net neutrality, but the commission insisted that malicious actors were the real culprits. The FCC has yet to produce further information or evidence of the breach. In their letter, the Senators asserted that “this particular attack may have denied the American people the opportunity to contribute to what is supposed to be a fair and transparent process, which in turn may call into question the integrity of the FCC’s rulemaking proceedings.” The Senators have requested to be briefed by the FBI by June 23.
Tech Calls for Reforms to Surveillance Program. Last Friday, a coalition of tech companies and organizations (including Engine) sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, asking that he and his colleagues reform a National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program that threatens the global competitiveness of America’s startup and technology community. Specifically, the letter calls for improvements to the privacy protections and transparency of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the National Security Agency to collect data and surveil non-citizens located abroad. The program has come under intense scrutiny since Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, and most recently the NSA rolled back a controversial piece of the program that allowed the agency to access American citizens’ electronic communications if they mentioned foreign intelligence targets. Tech companies have long called for changes to Section 702, arguing that it impacts their ability to sell to customers abroad, who remain distrustful of ties between the American intelligence and technology communities. The program is scheduled to expire at the end of this year absent Congressional action.
Highlights from the 2017 Internet Trends Report. Mary Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, delivered her highly anticipated annual “Internet Trends Report” at the Code Conference in Southern California this week. She covered topics such as broad economic trends, digital commerce, video gaming, emerging markets, and healthcare. Recode’s key takeaways included tidbits like annual smartphone market is slowing, Netflix now makes up 30 percent of home entertainment revenue (up from 0 percent ten years ago), and 25 percent of Americans now own some form of wearable technology (up from 12 percent the previous year). She also noted that China and India are quickly adding more Internet users, and expanding into areas like mobile Internet. Looking to the future, voice recognition is becoming more accurate, and now makes up 20 percent of mobile queries.