Startup News Digest 3/1/19

The Big Story: High stakes for trade deals. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified to Congress this week to address several important trade issues impacting startups. On China, it looks unlikely that we will see a resolution to the trade war or a decrease in tariffs soon, although the Administration has started to make some progress with the Chinese on issues like intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

Lighthizer also urged Congress to support the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreement when the trade deal comes before Congress later this year. As we explained late last year, that trade deal contains several wins for startups including banning data localization requirements, promoting intermediary liability protections, and making it easier for small businesses to export American products. This week, Engine joined over 200 other organizations calling for Congress to approve USMCA. 


 Policy Roundup:

 Content moderation is no easy task. In a new deep-dive, Medium’s Alex Feerst talks to several of the “judges and janitors of the Internet” who are tasked with moderating users’ speech on several of the most popular Internet platforms.

Getting copyright right. This week, Engine filed a brief with the USC Intellectual Property & Technology Law Clinic asking the Supreme Court to consider Google v. Oracle and warning that the misinterpretation by the Federal Circuit of federal copyright law will harm startups and cause forum shopping. 

Australia’s encryption problems. Engine joined the New America Foundation, Access Now, and others in comments highlighting continued concerns that Australia’s new assistance and access law, which could force companies to weaken the security of their products, will harm cybersecurity, privacy, and free expression.

Innovation to entrepreneurship. The House of Representatives this week passed the bipartisan Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act of 2019, expanding the size of the a program that teaches innovators and scientists how to become thriving entrepreneurs.

H-1Bs struggle under Trump. Since President Donald Trump took office, the number of accepted H-1B visa applications have fallen, and the number of applications challenged by the government has tripled.

A new FTC task force. The Federal Trade Commission announced this week a new task force to monitor competition in the technology industry, aimed identifying potential anticompetitive conduct.

DOJ drops AT&T challenge. After losing its second court challenge of the $85 billion deal to combine AT&T and Time Warner, the Justice Department announced this week that it is not seeking another appeal

Making tech inclusive. The Energy and Commerce subcommittee has rescheduled its hearing titled “Inclusion in Tech: How Diversity Benefits All Americans” for the morning of Wednesday, March 6.


Attending SXSW? Engine is working with several organizations to host events for startups planning to be in Austin. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact our Policy Director, Rachel at