Startup News Digest 11/3/17

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: Senate moves on SESTA. The Senate Commerce Committee will consider legislation next week that would change protections for Internet platforms that host users’ content. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (S.1693) is aimed at policing sex trafficking content online, but it could have unintended and devastating consequences for Internet startups that would be held responsible for content uploaded by users.

A coalition of tech policy groups -- including Engine, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and TechFreedom -- is continuing to make the case that the bill as currently written would do more harm than good. While we can all rally behind the goal of stopping the horrors of sex trafficking, Congress should carefully consider how the bill could prompt Internet platforms to over-censor their users or make it harder for Internet platforms to work with law enforcement to combat sex trafficking.


What’s Happening in Policy:

Startups weigh in on NAFTA. A group of nearly 60 startups from 20 states signed onto a letter to the Trump administration this week, urging it to preserve the U.S. intellectual property flexibility that allows for innovation.

A fair Internet. Comedian and television host W. Kamau Bell explained the importance of net neutrality to artists and activists in The New York Times.

DOJ continues to pressure tech on encryption. In a speech this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized tech companies that don’t give law enforcement access to encrypted data. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also touched on the topic in a speech this week, urging companies to retain the ability to break encryption when asked to by law enforcement.

An autonomous vehicle retrospective. Bloomberg looks at the origins of self driving cars, including the government funded competitions that brought together some of the people driving the industry forward today.

Will they or won’t they? The merger discussions between Sprint and T-Mobile swung back and forth this week, with reports that talks were on the brink of being called off followed by reports that the companies are working to salvage the deal.

Democrats envision IoT cyber certification. Democrats in the Senate and House recently introduced a bill that would have the Department of Commerce run a certification program to boost security in connected devices.


Startup Roundup:

  • Need to know. LinkedIn has sifted through the billions of actions on its platform to determine the 50 most in-demand U.S. startups.

  • Calling audibles to call centers. The Consumer Technology Association looks at virtual reality startup STRIVR, whose tech is being used by national sports organizations and Fortune 500 companies.

  • The Show Me State. The CEO of geospatial software company Boundless explains in VentureBeat why his company moved from New York City to St. Louis.