Startup News Digest 10/12/2018

The Big Story:  

A second Senate privacy hearing. The Senate Commerce Committee held its second hearing on online privacy this week, which included testimony from privacy advocates pushing for federal privacy legislation.

In addition to testimony from the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Nuala O’Connor and Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology’s Laura Moy, senators heard from European Data Protection Board Chair, Andrea Jelinek, and Alastair MacTaggart, the wealthy California real estate developer who funded a privacy ballot initiative that prompted the California legislature to pass a sweeping privacy bill earlier this year.

While there was widespread agreement about the need for privacy protections for Internet users, the hearing made it clear that there are several outstanding questions as lawmakers look to put such privacy protections into law. Specifically, lawmakers repeatedly turned to questions of how to define “personal” or “sensitive” information covered by a potential law and who should be responsible for enforcing privacy protections.

Policy Roundup:

Patent office undermines patent review process. The USPTO announced a rule change this week surrounding the evidentiary standard used to weed out low-quality patents at the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB). The new rule will make it harder for startups to fight back against patent trolls at the PTAB. We teamed up with the Consumer Technology Association to weigh in with the USPTO on how the changes will impact innovators and small businesses.

Microsoft backs open source with patent portfolio. Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network this week, making its 60,000 patents available to the group’s 2,600+ members to help those companies defend against patent troll lawsuits. This change signals a huge shift in patent strategy for the tech giant and will be helpful for the startups who are currently part of the open-sourced network.

Startups for net neutrality. Mavatar CEO Susan Akbarpour explains how innovative companies—like her online shopping platform company—need net neutrality to get off the ground and compete with large, established companies.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Dorset, V.T.  Headquartered in V.T, with production and shipping in two other states, Brooks Addington, CEO of TOST, has a perspective on varying ecosystems and state/local regulations. His goal for the company over the next five years is to grow; he hopes policymakers will continue to develop laws to encourage entrepreneurship and simplify regulatory processes.

Using technology to solve transportation innovation. Looking at innovators to solve a serious transportation problem, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority issued two challenges to tech companies. The first is to design tools to better predict subway delays and decrease disruption for commuters, and the second is create new products to move buses more effectively and efficiently through a traffic-ridden city.