Startup News Digest 1/18/19

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: AG nominee talks tech. Ongoing tech policy issues were a recurring topic during this week’s confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department, William Barr.

During his hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was repeatedly asked about tech issues ranging from privacy, to encryption, to mergers, to the market power of Internet giants. Barr expressed an interest in having the Justice Department get involved in questions around anti-competitive behavior online and ownership over consumer data, but he was hesitant when it came to questions about the Department’s role in alleged anti-conservative bias online.

Barr also reiterated his commitment to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s challenge to the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, where he was a board member until 2018.

Policy Roundup:

The show will go on. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this week denied a motion from the FCC to delay oral arguments in the case challenging the FCC’s repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules. The case will continue as planned, with oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 1, despite the ongoing government shutdown.

A new Senate privacy bill. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill this week that would have the FTC recommend privacy protections for Internet users in line with the 1974 Privacy Act. In an op-ed, he said he expects that “these recommendations will give Congress the direction needed to draft legislation that will effectively protect both consumers and the innovative cacrypabilities of our internet economy.”

Certainty for cryptocurrency.  Forbes looks at how the Token Taxonomy Act from Reps. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.) attempts to create regulatory certainty around cryptocurrency in the U.S. to retain cryptocurrency startups.

EU copyright proposal looms. As European lawmakers close in on the finish line for Article 13—a problematic copyright proposal that would have Internet platforms filter user-generated content for infringement before it’s uploaded—it’s unclear where the votes will fall, and the proposal continues to draw criticism from all corners. Allied for Startups explains in a new post this week why Article 13 will hurt startups.

Fifth amendment for fingers, faces? In a recent ruling, a federal court said law enforcement cannot force individuals to unlock their phones with their fingerprints or face.

Startup Roundup:

Trends to watch. Over at 1776, Rachel goes through the five policy trends startups should be watching in this Congress.