Startup News Digest 3/23/2018

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The Big Story: Congress passes funding bill with several tech provisions. Narrowly avoiding a government shutdown, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law this week a $1.3 trillion government funding bill that included a whole host of tech-related provisions.

The bill includes S. 2383, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (or CLOUD) Act, which would allow the U.S. government to enter into bilateral agreements with other governments setting standards for cross-border data requests. Engine supported the legislation but hoped the bill would be improved to address privacy concerns voiced by civil liberties groups, as well hoped that the bill would incorporate the widely-supported Email Privacy Act, which would require a warrant to access stored emails.

The government funding bill also includes a reauthorization of the EB-5 visa program for foreign investors and the House-passed H.R. 4986, an FCC reauthorization bill that includes a slew of agency-related provisions, including related to unlicensed spectrum, spectrum auction deposits, and fraudulent phone calls.

Policy Roundup:

Senate passes SESTA. The Senate this week passed a bill that changes fundamental legal protections for Internet platforms ostensibly in the name of cracking down on sex trafficking. Engine has long warned about the unintended and potentially counterproductive consequences of that bill, and Craigslist announced after its passage that the site would no longer host personal ads.

Congress considers Cambridge Analytica controversy. In the aftermath of bombshell reports about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to target voters, policymakers want to hear from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

AT&T merger trial kicks off. Lawyers for the U.S. government and for AT&T gave opening arguments this week as the likely weeks-long trial over AT&T’s proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner began.

Tech companies see potential new EU tax. The European Commission proposed a new tax this week aimed at increasing taxes on big tech companies that do business but don’t have a physical presence in European countries.

White House prioritizes IT upgrades. The Trump administration’s 2018 Management Agenda is out, and it lists as top priorities IT modernization and reforming the federal workforce.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville’s startup ecosystem is fueled by the same creativity and enterprising spirit that earned the “Music City” its nickname. This week, we spoke with Kelli Nowers, who attributes Nashville’s success to Tennessee’s new Angel Tax Credit and the city’s ability to build upon its industrial past.

#1776Challenge. Entrepreneurs descended on Washington, D.C. this week where they pitched their companies as part of the Challenge Cup hosted by 1776 and Revolution.