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 http://engine.is/digest
The Big Story: Online surveillance bill crosses Hill finish line. The Senate passed a bill on Thursday that renews a controversial online government surveillance power. With a vote of 65-34, the bill is now headed to President Donald Trump’s desk.
The bill, which passed the House last week, reauthorizes Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, an authority that lets the U.S. government collect and search through foreign online communications. The authority became controversial after Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 the breadth of the scope of programs under Section 702 and that the government collects and later searches for Americans communications under Section 702 without a warrant. This surveillance raises red flags for foreign officials who worry that U.S. privacy laws, and the U.S. companies that are governed by them, fail to protect foreign users.
Despite multiple attempts by lawmakers to move aggressive and moderate Section 702 reform proposals, the bill as passed fails to implement many of the proposed privacy, transparency, and oversight reforms.
What’s Happening in Policy:
States challenge net neutrality repeal. A group of state attorneys general are challenging in court the FCC’s December decision to repeal its 2015 net neutrality rules, which kept ISPs from blocking or slowing access to websites and online services.
Lawmakers make rural broadband push. A bipartisan group of senators wrote to President Donald Trump this week urging him to prioritize funding for rural broadband in his infrastructure plan.
Another immigration fight. Tech lobbying group Information Technology Industry Council is calling on the Trump administration to continue its H-4 visa program, which makes it easier for spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally work in the U.S.
Lawmaker presses for chip briefing. Rep. Jerry McNerney is asking chip companies to give a briefing on how the recently discovered high profile security vulnerabilities affect consumers.
The impact of smartphone wars. Evan breaks down how the patent legal battle between Apple and Samsung will impact startups and innovation in the U.S.
A boost for startup ecosystems. Amazon has narrowed down it list of potential headquarters of a second headquarters to 20 cities. The list includes Raleigh, NC, which was the focus of a #StartupsEverywhere profile last year.
Tech’s new hotspots. Tech opportunities are growing, and not just in Silicon Valley.
Wooing startups. TechRepublic looks at the steps France has taken to attract entrepreneurs.
CES catch-up. The Consumer Technology Association pulled together startup highlights from its annual Consumer Electronic Show.