Startup News Digest 12/8/17

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: Countdown on net neutrality vote. Despite massive backlash and calls for delay, the FCC will vote next Thursday on Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back the 2015 net neutrality rules that kept ISPs from blocking or slowing access to certain websites and services.

In his proposal, Pai argues that rolling back the rules and letting ISPs charge websites and online services for better access to users could actually help startups. We’ve debunked Pai’s flimsy reasoning.

Additionally, more than 1,300 startups have voiced their support for strong net neutrality protections. Add your name here.

What’s Happening in Policy:

Supporting changes to the House sex trafficking bill. House members have been working on a compromise version of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act that would preserve intermediary liability protections in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act while boosting efforts to crack down on sex trafficking, and Engine is supporting the changes to the bill. The House Judiciary Committee is considering the bill next week.

EU officials threaten data deal. A group of European Union privacy regulators are calling for improvements to the Privacy Shield — a transatlantic agreement that U.S. companies rely on to legally store and process European users’ data in the U.S. — and threatening to challenge the deal in court if they don’t see those improvements.

Wray continues encryption push. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned lawmakers in written testimony this week that his agency is increasingly struggling to access encrypted data.

Self driving bill stalling. The Senate’s bill to boost self driving car efforts has hit a snag in the Senate, where some members are formally objecting to the bill moving forward citing safety, privacy, and cybersecurity concerns.

Some wiggle room on spying law. The Trump administration has decided that it can continue online spying programs through late April despite the fact that the surveillance authority that governs those programs is set to expire at the end of December if Congress fails to act.

EU pressure on extremist content. The European Commission said this week that Internet companies need to do more to stop the spread of extremist content on their platforms and threatened to move legislation next year on the issue if the companies don’t make progress themselves.

Merger calendar update. A federal judge has set a March date for the trial over the Justice Department’s effort to block the AT&T purchase of Time Warner.


Startup Roundup:

  • #StartupsEverywhere: Year in Review. Monica rounds up the startup ecosystem lessons learned after a year of featuring communities from across the country in #StartupsEverywhere.

  • Scouting it out. After adding a cybersecurity badge earlier this year, the Girl Scouts of the USA is partnering with Raytheon to develop a nationwide computer science program.

  • Five years down. Social entrepreneurship accelerator SEED SPOT held a demo day in Phoenix, Arizona highlighting the progress its high school and adult entrepreneur alumni have made in the last five years.