Startup News Digest: 2/15/19

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: EU officials reach a deal on Article 13. European Union officials reached a deal on new copyright rules this week, including Article 13, a controversial proposal that would require Internet platforms to either obtain licenses from a given copyright holder or prevent the upload of any user-generated content that infringes on that rightsholder’s copyright.

The proposal relies heavily on the idea that Internet platforms can merely filter all of their users’ content before it’s uploaded and simply remove anything that infringes on someone else’s copyright. But content filters have inherent technical limitations, including the inability to recognize when copyright material is being reused lawfully, which raises concerns about the impact of Article 13 on free speech and independent creators. Last year, a coalition of Internet platforms used by creators—such as Patron and Bandcamp—warned EU officials that “Article 13 will hurt creators in Europe and make it harder for our companies to compete with the dominant incumbents.”

In a statement this week, Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom called the policy “a step backward for the Internet and the startups which help power innovation online,” which will be disproportionately impacted. “Large platforms like YouTube and Facebook may be able to bear the costs of content filtering obligations, but small websites cannot,” Evan said.


Policy Roundup:

Fuel for the privacy fire. The Government Accountability Office released a report this week, encouraging Congress to consider “comprehensive internet privacy legislation.” The report comes as lawmakers prepare for dual consumer privacy hearings, one in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one in the Senate Commerce Committee, later this month.

Backdoors behind closed doors. A U.S. judge rejected a push to release information about the Justice Department’s effort last year to have Facebook facilitate law enforcement access to encrypted voice calls over its Messenger platform.

An EO on AI. President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week that directs federal agencies to prioritize and dedicate resource to researching artificial intelligence and establishes an inter-agency group to establish standards around “the safe and trustworthy creation and adoption” of AI.

Women inventors on the rise. According to a new report from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, patents with at least one woman listed as an inventor are on the rise, but women still make up a small minority of overall inventors. 

Labeling your drone. The Federal Aviation Administration is moving ahead with a requirement that drone owners externally mark their drone with identifiable serial numbers, which will go into effect later this month.