Startup News Digest 10/6/17

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: House Takes Up Section 230 Debate. The discussions about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act -- a foundational Internet law that protects Internet platforms from being held liable for the speech of their users -- and efforts to fight online sex trafficking have kicked off in the lower chamber.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on crime held a hearing this week on the law and proposals to change it in an attempt to combat online sex trafficking. Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom testified at the hearing, reiterating our willingness to work with lawmakers and others to find ways to effectively fight online sex trafficking without undermining the good work currently being done by companies in this space or the current protections that shield Internet platforms from liability.

The House hearing comes after the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) earlier this fall. While we, and many others, continue to make the case that undermining Section 230 would hurt Internet companies of all sizes and actually make it harder in some cases to fight online sex trafficking, we hope we can all find a solution to address the tragedy that is sex trafficking.


What’s Happening in Policy:

Getting Serious About 702. A bipartisan group of House members unveiled a bill this week that would reauthorize and rein in the controversial surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law that governs programs like PRISM and Upstream and is set to expire at the end of the year.

Another Term for Pai. The Senate voted 52-41 to reconfirm Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week. Despite opposition from Democrats, many of whom object to Pai’s plan to undo the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules, the yes votes included four Democrats.

Green Light for Driverless Car Bill. The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill aimed at safely and quickly getting driverless cars on the road.

Lawmakers Debate DACA. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week on the Trump administration’s recent announcement that it would be ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era policy that gave protections to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

Russia Hackers Get NSA Tools. Russian hackers have obtained tools used by the NSA to hack into foreign networks as well as information about U.S. network defenses after an NSA contractor brought home classified material and put it on a computer that had Kaspersky anti-virus software installed on it.

Momentum for Data Breach Standard. In the wake of the high-profile Equifax data breach -- which could have affected more than 145 million people -- lawmakers are proposing a national standard for data breach notification.

Startup Roundup

  • #StartupsEverywhere: Tacoma, WA. This week we revisited the Pacific Northwest and took a look at the growing startup ecosystem in Tacoma, WA. Strategically situated between Portland and Seattle, Tacoma is a city that has historically been home to the military and foresting industry, but has seen a recent rise in tech firms. Read the profile and learn why.

  • Rise of the Rest. The bus tour to celebrate U.S. entrepreneurship kicks off next week, and we’ll be along for the ride.

  • Head, Heart, Hands, Health, STEM. Axios talks to 4-H about the group’s STEM education push.