Startup News Digest 2/2/2018

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The Big Story: Bipartisan criticism of reported 5G plan. The week started off with reports that the Trump administration was considering a plan to have the government take over the build out of the nation’s next-generation wireless broadband networks. The plan was met with immediate, bipartisan criticism, including from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the other members of the commission.

Engine joined FCC members and others in opposing such a plan. “The vitality of the U.S. startup ecosystem depends on access to advanced communications networks, and mobile connectivity looks to be even more critical to the next generation of startups,” Evan said in a statement. “Rather than jeopardizing the development of next-generation mobile networks by nationalizing them to accomplish an ill-defined national security objective, government should focus on promoting robust competition in 5G and other communications platforms."

The White House downplayed the reports, and President Trump didn’t get into any telecom details during his State of the Union address this week, where he briefly called for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill.

Policy Roundup:

Lawmakers debate broadband infrastructure. During a House hearing this week, lawmakers discussed obstacles to broadband deployment, particularly in rural areas, but sparred over legislative proposals to address those obstacles.

Court sides with Twitter in platform liability case. A federal court in San Francisco ruled that Twitter can’t be held responsible for the deaths of two Americans in an ISIS attack, despite the terrorist group’s use of the social media platform.

NY Attorney General investigating followers-for-sale. Following a New York Times piece on the prevalence of celebrities, journalists, and others purchasing automated social media followers, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation into Devumi, a company that sells automated followers.

Court rules against UK surveillance. An appeals court said the United Kingdom’s digital surveillance regime is inconsistent with European privacy rules and allows law enforcement to access individuals Internet data without independent oversight.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus startup ecosystem has recently been impacted by high-profile acquisitions, interest from major tech players (including Facebook and Hyperloop), financial reforms in 2010, and more. This week’s #StartupsEverywhere features Jordan Davis, who’s working to make Columbus the model for smart cities around the country.