Startup News Digest 11/30/18

The Big Story: FTC wants more authority, resources for privacy. During a hearing this week, the commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission told lawmakers the agency needs more authority to better protect consumers’ privacy online, including the ability to bring civil penalties against companies that violate privacy rules.

The hearing, held by the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, comes as many lawmakers are thinking through ways to legislate around online privacy rules in the next Congress. While the commissioners of the bipartisan agency disagreed on whether a federal privacy law should preempt state privacy laws—with Republican Commissioner Noah Phillips warning that a patchwork of state laws could overwhelm small companies, and Democrat Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Slaughter warning against preemption—there was broad agreement that the FTC needs additional resources to carry out its consumer protection mission.

 “Our staff is literally almost killing themselves. They’re working so hard on these litigations,” FTC ChairmanJoseph Simons said. “If that remains at a historic high level or increases, we would need more resources.” 


Policy Roundup:

Rosenstein on encryption, disinformation. In a speech this week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein urged social media companies to self-regulate to prevent disinformation campaigns if they want to avoid government action, and he continued his push to have companies engage in “responsible encryption” that allows for law enforcement access to encrypted data.

 EU digital tax dead. Several European countries have pulled back from a plan to create a digital tax of 3 percent on large Internet companies, effectively killing the proposal.

 Bias online. Following concerns from Republicans about potential “anti conservative bias” online, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week including testimony from Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

 SCOTUS hears App Store case. The Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case about a class action lawsuit against Apple for alleged antitrust violations regarding the App Store.


Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Bellevue, W.A. Startups Give Back. Matthew Griffin co-founded Combat Flip Flops to make a difference in foreign policy. While he leaned on resources from The Bunker Labs, Griff hopes that policymakers consider tax incentives for veteran entrepreneurs, as well as social impact ventures.