Startup News Digest 4/20/2018

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: Big week for net neutrality hearings. Lawmakers in the House and on a California Senate committee held hearings on net neutrality this week, with the latter advancing a bill that would restore net neutrality protections in the state.

In California, a bill from state Sen. Scott Wiener to reinstate net neutrality protections within the state was approved by the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee. Engine led a letter signed by dozens of companies in support of the measure.

In DC, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a net neutrality-themed hearing this week focusing on paid prioritization and allowing ISPs to charge for better, “fast lane,” access to users. As we’ve long argued, paid prioritization schemes would negatively impact startups, who would have to pay more to compete against incumbents for priority access to users.

Also at the federal level, time is ticking for the Senate to consider the Congressional Review Act resolution to undo the FCC’s net neutrality repeal. In time for the vote and the upcoming Small Business Week, Engine is encouraging startups to sign onto a letter from small businesses in support of strong net neutrality protections.

Policy Roundup:

PTO oversight. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing with the new Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu. While calling for stability and predictability in the patent system, the Director made several concerning statements regarding subject-matter patentability and the eligibility of software patents. Engine weighed in with Congress and the USPTO to outline the patent priorities for startups, including the protection of patent quality, post-grant review processes, and the Alice decision.

GDPR hits home. Bloomberg takes a look at how the looming European privacy rules are causing companies to rethink their terms and conditions agreements.

Online sales tax hits SCOTUS. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in South Dakota v. Wayfair, a case about whether a state can force an out-of-state seller to collect and remit sales tax.

Cybersecurity Tech Accord. Facebook, Microsoft, and 32 other companies agreed this week to work together to defend against government cyberattacks and prevent tampering with their products.

Goodbye Microsoft case. In the wake of Congress passing the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, which sets rules around cross-border government requests for data, the Supreme Court tossed out Microsoft’s challenge of a U.S. warrant for data stored in Ireland.

NY AG probes crypto exchanges. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent questions to thirteen cryptocurrency exchanges this week, including Kraken, whose CEO said the company would not be answering Schneiderman’s questions.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Boise, Idaho. Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Boise’s startup community is expanding at a comparable rate. This week, we spoke with Daniel Faricy who cites buy-in from local stakeholders across sectors as a key input for the Treasure Valley’s ecosystem. However, he believes policies that favor the mobility of talent and capital are essential to carrying this progress forward.