Startup News Digest 9/15/17

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

The Big Story: Senate CDA 230 Fight. We’ve spent much of the last few weeks warning about the unintended and potentially dangerous consequences of a well-intentioned bill called the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (S. 1693). The bill will be the focus of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing next week.

While ostensibly aimed at the laudable goal of stopping the horrors of sex trafficking, the bill as currently written would undermine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a foundational Internet law that keeps platforms from being held responsible for what their users say. Engine and other tech groups, including TechFreedom, have warned about the bill’s far-reaching effects on Internet platforms, including those run by startups, that have nothing to do with sex trafficking.

We hope Congress takes a serious look at this legislation and the impact it would have on the small and new startups that are constantly innovating, creating jobs, and growing the economy. Like many, we’re ready to help find a solution to the tragedy that is sex trafficking, but it has to be one that doesn’t threaten the Internet as we know it.

What’s Happening in Policy:

D.C. Digs into Equifax Data Breach: Most people were concerned, to say the least, when news broke last week that Equifax suffered a data breach that could affect 143 million people, and D.C. policymakers were quick to follow. The FTC confirmed this week that it is investigating the breach, and the company is facing scrutiny from House Energy and Commerce Republicans and Democrats, the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and a group of Senate Democrats.

New iPhone, New Privacy Questions: This week, Apple released the iPhone X, an updated smartphone that can be unlocked with a user’s face thanks to the device’s new facial recognition technology. Despite Apple’s efforts to head off privacy concerns -- including storing the facial recognition data on individual devices -- Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) had some questions for the company.

Senators Weigh Self-Driving Truck Rules: The Senate Commerce Committee debated self-driving truck policy this week, including whether they should include self-driving truck measures into a self-driving car bill similar to one passed by the House earlier this month.

Net Neutrality Debate Comes to the Bay Area: Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and representatives from Mozilla, Sonic, the Center for Media Justice, HBO’s Insecure and Amazon’s Just Add Magic will discuss net neutrality at an event next Monday.


Startup Roundup:

  • Coding for Communities: In the wake of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, coders are teaming up to make information about hurricane relief resources accessible.

  • Disrupting Food Stamps: Startups are trying to overcome bureaucratic hurdles to make it easy to keep track of and use food stamps using technology.

  • Bodega Apologizes: New retail startup Bodega apologized for any offense it caused when it announced its plans for “small, automated stores stocked with the essentials you need, right where you need them.” Its cofounder promised that the company’s goal isn’t to replace the ubiquitous and beloved NYC corner stores that are its namesake.