Startup News Digest 4/13/18

The Big Story: Zuckerberg hits the Hill. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on the Hill this week for back-to-back marathon hearings in front of lawmakers eager to press the company about its role in and response to Cambridge Analytica’s use of the data of tens of millions of Facebook users.

Zuckerberg fielded questions on a range of topics from members of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees the first day and then members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee the second day. Repeat topics included how much control users have over their data, what Facebook has done to keep groups like Cambridge Analytica from accessing and using Facebook users’ information without their permission, and steps Facebook is taking to police content on its platform, including increasing its security and content moderation team to 20,000 people by the end of the year.

Policy Roundup:

SESTA signed as Backpage collapses.
This week, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that makes changes to key protections for online platforms following a months-long debated largely centered on, a classifieds website that was seized by the federal government late last week.

Leaving startups in the slow lane. Ahead of next week’s House hearing on online prioritization, we explain how allowing ISPs to charge companies for better access to users will harm startups.

Open Internet in Oregon. This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law a bill that prevents the state government from doing business with ISPs that don’t follow basic net neutrality protections.

Playing up backdoors. A Motherboard investigation found that law enforcement agencies are using cheap and accessible tools to unlock encrypted iPhones, a fact that could potentially undermine the Justice Department’s arguments that the tech industry needs to grant law enforcement backdoor access to encrypted products and services.

CLOUD Act improvements. Now that the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act has been passed, Dropbox is outlining ways the law can be implemented to boost privacy protections.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham has evolved from its industrial past to become an emerging hub of software companies that will be a stop on the Rise of the Rest tour next month. This week we spoke to Devon Laney, who believes that community buy-in and a state tax credit program which spurred real estate development downtown contributed to the ecosystem’s growth. However, he adds that a state grant matching program could further develop Birmingham’s innovation economy.

Lessons learned. After a year of profiling startup ecosystems across the country in our #StartupsEverywhere series, we’re pulling together the lessons we’ve learned to help other communities transform themselves into emerging centers of innovation and to educate policymakers on how they can contribute to the process. First up is the role universities have in bolstering the rate of startup creation and fueling a pipeline of skilled entrepreneurs.