Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy.
Clinton Releases Tech Platform. As our candidate tech scorecard revealed, the presidential primaries were rather light on tech policy talk. Other than a few brief exchanges on immigration and encryption, the presidential hopefuls have had very little to say on the issues of most interest to the startup community. Hopefully, Hillary Clinton's release this week of her comprehensive tech agenda marks the beginning of a new focus on tech issues in the election. Clinton's proposal is likely to be hugely popular among the startup community, as it touches on virtually every key tech policy issue, from STEM education to patent reform to net neutrality, and adopts pro-tech positions throughout. Clinton’s likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has not yet offered a similar tech agenda, but it seems unlikely that his policy prescriptions will satisfy innovators, considering his statements on tech issues thus far earned him an F in our scorecard.
How Brexit Could Hurt Tech. As the shock of the Brexit vote sinks in, the tech community is taking a closer look at the damage it might do to startups and tech companies in both the UK and the EU. Engine takes a look at five different areas where uncertainty about the future is jeopardizing the future of the tech and startup world in Europe: the proposed Digital Single Market, the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement, passporting rights from the UK to the EU, increased scrutiny from EU regulators, and the freedom of movement for tens of thousands of workers across the EU. While the terms of Britain’s separation from the EU are still up for negotiation, the UK’s tech community is already despairing.
New Conflicts for San Francisco and Tech. For many people, San Francisco seems like a tech utopia, home to countless startups and successful tech companies. However, as tensions grow between some San Francisco residents and those in the tech community, conflicts are emerging. Earlier this week, Airbnb sued San Francisco to overturn a city ordinance that forces online short-term rental platforms to verify that their hosts are registered with the city before their listing is published online. They argued that the law violates the federal Communications Decency Act, which provides online platforms with a safe harbor from content posted by their users. Separately, three progressives on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors this week also released a proposal to impose a 1.5 percent payroll tax, only on tech companies. Such a move would reverse an ordinance passed in 2012 that eliminated the city’s payroll tax and replaced it with a gross receipts tax. That ordinance passed by a huge 71%-29% margin, and was put on the ballot by a 11-0 vote by the Board of Supervisors. The proceeds from the proposed payroll tax would go to improve services for the homeless and to fund affordable housing. It is unlikely that the payroll tax will pass, however, as it requires the support of three additional supervisors to make it to the November ballot and a ⅔’s supermajority vote in the fall.