Startup News Digest 3/9/2018

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: Net neutrality repeal challenged in court and the states. The floodgates have been opened to the legal and legislative challenges to the FCC’s decision in December to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules.

Washington became the first state to enact a net neutrality law this week, prohibiting ISPs from blocking or slowing access to certain websites and Internet services. Several other states have kicked off consideration of net neutrality legislation, though state net neutrality laws are on uncertain legal grounds after the FCC preempted state laws in its December decision.

The FCC is also facing several legal challenges, including from advocacy groups, states’ attorneys general, and now from companies like Etsy, Foursquare, and Kickstarter. A federal panel ruled this week that the challenges will be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Engine will be filing an amicus brief with the Court, and we’re looking for startups who want to join our amicus brief and voice their concerns about the net neutrality repeal.

Policy Roundup:

The 5G race. The New York Times looks at how companies and governments are working to become leaders of the next-generation wireless networks.

New patent bill in the Senate. Sen. Tom Cotton introduced a bill this week aimed at increasing patent quality by preventing patent holders from avoiding review by claiming sovereign immunity if the patent is nominally owned by an American Indian tribe. Engine joined other advocacy groups in a letter supporting the bill.

Microsoft’s blockchain recommendations. Microsoft is out with a white paper this week outlining the use of blockchain in the financial services industry, the benefits and risks of blockchain when it comes to cybersecurity attacks, and policy recommendations to promote secure blockchain applications.

Defending international entrepreneur program. Foundry Group’s Brad Feld writes in The Hill about the importance of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which has faced threats under the current administration.

Fake comments, real problem. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel writes in a Washington Post op-ed about the problem of fake comments and stolen identities in the FCC’s dockets, especially on net neutrality.

SEC wants cryptocurrency exchanges to register. The Securities and Exchange Commission said this week that cryptocurrency trading platforms should register with the agency as a national securities exchange.

Startup Roundup:

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#StartupsEverywhere: Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A renewed sense of localism has bolstered support for Southern Louisiana's entrepreneurial ecosystem in the "large small town" of Baton Rouge. For this week's #StartupsEverywhere, we talked to Stephen Loy, who cites the city's steady flow of eager, educated university students and a statewide tradable SBIR tax credit program as key inputs.

Role Breakers. In honor of International Women’s Day, entrepreneurship networking company Alice is highlighting stories of women entrepreneurs in their “Role Breakers” blog series.