The Big Story: White House tees up AI, 5G work. The White House will take steps in the coming weeks to boost the U.S.’s competitiveness in the fields of artificial intelligence and 5G, the next generation wireless network, according to reports out this week. Those specific tech policy areas are ones where policymakers have expressed concerns about losing out to other countries, including China.
The Big Story: GDPR’s biggest hit yet. The French privacy watchdog has issued a $57 million fine against Google, the largest fine yet under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, the sweeping privacy rules that went into effect in the European Union last year.
California collecting input on privacy law. The process of implementing a new California privacy law kicked off in earnest this week as state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office held its first public forum on the issue.
New year, new Congress, same issues. The new year and the new Congress kicked off this week, but many of the policy debates that concerned startups in 2018 will continue on. As the Democrats take control of the House and the gavels of key committees, expect vigorous oversight of the Trump administration across the board, which is likely to impact several of the policy areas startups care most about, including trade, net neutrality at the Federal Communications Commission, and more.
President Trump hosted “Tech Week” this week at the White House. Events held earlier in the week included a meeting with tech company CEOs to discuss a number of policy issues including cybersecurity, tax reform, and updating the government’s technology. CEOs from 18 leading tech companies attended including Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Intel. Later in the week, the White House held meetings with investors and executives to discuss emerging technologies like drones, 5G wireless expansion, and artificial intelligence.
A federal judge in Hawaii issued a freeze on President Trump’s new immigration ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. Two weeks ago, President Trump signed the revised immigration ban, which narrowed the scope of the original ban to six countries and removed some of the most contentious aspects in an attempt to satisfy the courts. However, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson was not convinced, arguing that “a reasonable, objective observer...would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.” Almost 60 technology companies signed an amicus brief supporting the state of Hawaii in its suit against the federal government. The decision by Watson is probably not the final word, as the Justice Department will likely appeal the ruling and continue to fight for the ban over the coming months.
Prioritizing Broadband in Infrastructure Package. During his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, President Trump promised to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure. While the speech did not include specifics about what would be included in the initiative or how it would be funded, many are hopeful that broadband investments will be prioritized (including more than 60 mayors and local leaders who signed onto a Next Century Cities letter urging the President and Congressional leadership to include broadband in any infrastructure effort). As we have argued before, the millions of Americans who still lack access to quality broadband represent potential users and entrepreneurs who are cut off from the opportunities that connectivity provides. We’re tracking.