Startup News Digest: 6/30/2017

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

Engine Welcomes the Reintroduction of Stock Options Bill. On Tuesday, Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Dean Heller (R-NV), along with Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) reintroduced the Empowering Employees through Stock Ownership (EESO) Act, bipartisan legislation that will make it easier for startup employees to exercise their stock options. Engine was joined by more than 70 companies and organizations in sending a letter supporting the legislation. In response to the reintroduction, Engine Executive Director, Evan Engstrom, noted that “The Empowering Employees through Stock Ownership Act will allow more employees to obtain a stake in the companies that they help to build and grow. This policy change is a no-brainer and a win-win for both startups and their employees.”

Engine Joins A Letter to Demand that the “Five Eyes” Group Respects Encryption. More than 80 organizations and individuals from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States sent letters to their respective governments insisting that government officials defend strong encryption. The letter comes on the heels of the “Five Eyes” ministerial meeting in Ottawa, Canada earlier this week. The letter asked the group to protect the security of citizens, economies, and governments by supporting the development and use of secure communications tools and technologies, by rejecting policies that would prevent or undermine the use of strong encryption, and by urging other world leaders to do the same. Read the full letter here.

Safe Harbors are Critical to Economic Stability, IA Finds. The Internet Association (IA) released a new economic analysis by NERA Economic Consulting, finding that weakening intermediary liability safe harbor protections would significantly reduce economic activity in the internet sector, causing the U.S. economy to lose 4.25 million jobs and $440 billion in GDP every 10 years. Without intermediary liability protections startups would face higher entry costs, limiting innovation. Startups rely on these liability protections to share content, test new ideas, and allow users to fully interact with new technologies, this report shows just how significant these protections are to the economic growth of startups.  

DHS Halts Further Laptop Bans…for Now. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has decided to put off further bans of laptops and other electronic devices stored in carry-on luggage on flights from Europe to the U.S., Secretary Kelly announced on Wednesday. This decision was coupled with new requirements for airlines and airports to increase screening procedures for passengers. Passengers traveling to the United States from Europe will be allowed to carry electronic devices that are larger than a cell phone if they choose to fly with an airline that complies with these stricter security regulations. The new rules, which will be implemented in phases, will impact over 180 airlines that offer direct flights in the U.S. and carry over 300,000 passengers per day.

President Trump Nominates Brendan Carr to Fill Final FCC Seat. On Wednesday night, the President formally announced his intention to nominate Brendan Carr, the FCC general counsel and former aide to Chairman Pai, to fill the final open seat at the commission. Carr is expected to be supportive of the Chairman’s plan to roll back open internet regulations that were established under the previous administration. Of further concern to net neutrality advocates, Carr was previously an attorney at the DC law firm, Wiley Rein, before he came to the FCC. While there, his clients included the major internet service provider companies AT&T and Verizon Communications. Commissioner O’Reilly, a vocal opponent of the open internet regulations, congratulated Carr on his nomination saying he would be “an added voice at the commission in efforts to reduce senseless regulations and install sound policymaking.”

DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Take Up the Microsoft Dublin Case. Late last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) requested that the Supreme Court hear an appeal in the landmark Microsoft Dublin email privacy case. The case revolves around whether the U.S. can demand that a company to turn over data stored on another country’s sovereign soil — in this case, the Microsoft Outlook emails of a suspected drug dealer in Dublin, Ireland. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Microsoft last July, ruling that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) “does not authorize courts to issue and enforce against U.S.-based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e-mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers.” However, the DOJ argues that the court “seriously misinterpreted” ECPA. This all comes at the same time that Congress is considering reforms to ECPA, which was passed over 30 years ago, well before the widespread use of email and social media. We’re tracking.

Stay Involved with Engine this Summer! Congress may take a summer recess, but that doesn’t mean Engine will. On July 12, we will be participating in the Net Neutrality Day of Action along with dozens of other members of the internet community. If you would like to be involved, you can sign up online here. Additionally, on July 26, we will be hosting the final panel discussion in our “Nuts and Bolts of Encryption” series. Join us to hear from startup leaders on how they use encryption to better support the security of their work. Email invites and logistical details are forthcoming. Finally, we are always on the lookout for new ecosystems to profile on our #StartupsEverywhere series. If you’re interested in participating, email Monica at