Startup News Digest 12/14/2018

The Big Story: How the new trade deal affects startups. After months of negotiating a new trade deal between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, the three countries’ leaders signed onto a new trade deal—the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA—late last month.

As we explain in a new blog post this week, the trade deal is overall a positive development for the U.S. startup ecosystem, but there are two areas where Congress can continue to push for developments to help startups thrive. The first is in implementation of the text in the trade deal that will make it easier for U.S. startups to export American products and lower the de minimis rates in Canada and Mexico, and the second is advancing protections and exceptions in U.S. copyright law, including fair use, that startups rely on.

“Despite the global nature of the Internet and digital trade, for U.S. startups, the top two export destinations are Canada and Mexico,” we wrote. “We hope that USMCA will be swiftly enacted and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to address these remaining issues.”


 Policy Roundup:

An EO on opportunity zones. President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at advancing as “opportunity zones” provision in the tax bill that would give benefits to investors who invest in distressed areas around the country. The executive order created the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which will work to find ways to use government funding to boost low income communities.

A bad anniversary. This week marks the one year anniversary of the FCC’s 2017 vote to repeal the 2015 net neutrality protections that startups relied on to keep the Internet a level playing field. Time is running out for Congress to reverse the FCC’s decision, but there’s still time to call your representatives and tell them to sign onto the Congressional Resolution Act in support of net neutrality.

Can you pass the encryption test? A new interactive online game from Human Rights Watch shows why strong, secure encryption helps protect everyone, every day.

 Classifying text messages. In a controversial party-line vote this week, the FCC classified text messages as an information service, which Republicans said will give carriers a better ability to block spam, while Democrats argued it gives carriers too much power to block text messages they don’t like.


Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Santa Clara, C.A. We met with Thuc Vu, cofounder and CEO of OhmniLabs, a startup that produces home robots that help people communicate at a distance. As OhmniLabs continues to grow, Vu hopes policymakers look for solutions to immigration reform and incentivizing research and development.

Tech Diversity. Recently launched, Diversify Tech is an online collection of resources for underrepresented people in tech that includes job opportunities, conferences, scholarships and upcoming events.