Startup News Digest 1/12/2018

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 passes online spying bill. The House voted 256-164 this week to approve a bill that expands and extends online spying under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill, which already has formal support from the White House and is now headed to the Senate, continues surveillance programs that could harm U.S. companies' reputation abroad, which will disproportionately affect startups that rely on streamlined international agreements for legally processing and storing foreigners’ data.

The House passed the bill Thursday after rejecting an amendment that would have replaced the entire measure with an aggressive pro-privacy bill from Rep. Justin Amash and others. Lawmakers were denied the chance to vote on a more moderate amendment that would have incorporated some of the pro-privacy changes in Amash’s bill—including requiring the FBI to get a warrant before accessing Americans’ communications collected through Section 702—when the House Rules Committee voted Tuesday to block any amendment but Amash’s from coming to the floor.

Now the debate heads to the Senate, where the bill faces fierce opposition from a small coalition of lawmakers, and then presumably to the desk of President Donald Trump, who has formally supported the bill despite tweets that seem to say otherwise.


What’s Happening in Policy:

Traffic data partnership. The Department of Transportation is teaming up with Waze to use crowd-sourced traffic and speed data to make roads safer.

Back at it on encryption. FBI Director Christopher Wray revived the Trump administration’s push for access to encrypted products and services in a speech this week, calling it “an urgent public safety issue.”

DACA deadline worries tech execs. Tech executives joined other business leaders in calling on Congress to act before protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy end in March, which threatens hundreds of thousands of individuals who came to the U.S. as children with deportation.

The magic number. The 30th senator—Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill—signed on to cosponsor a measure from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that would undo the FCC’s December vote to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules, meaning the measure’s supporters can force a vote on the floor. The measure now has more than 40 cosponsors as well as support from Maine Republican Susan Collins.

Net neutrality fights goes state-level. The New York Times looks at the state-by-state push to reinstate net neutrality protections after the FCC’s vote in December.

Online extremism hearing next week. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing next week on extremist content on social media platforms and what steps companies, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, are taking to combat it.


Startup Roundup:

Startups at CES. The Consumer Technology Association’s annual show hit Vegas this week, where over 900 startups were featured.

Women founders. Swaay looks at the venture capitalist firms investing in companies led by women.

Blockchain? This pair of entrepreneurs and cryptocurrency investors are helping others learn about blockchain technology.