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 http://engine.is/digest
The Big Story: Back and forth over encryption. The debate over law enforcement access to encrypted technologies flared up again this week after Wired published a deep dive on a proposal that would allow law enforcement to unlock encrypted devices. The report was met by immediate backlash from civil liberties and cryptography experts who say the proposal is neither revolutionary nor secure.
The proposal, from former Microsoft and IBM executive Ray Ozzie, would require tech companies give to law enforcement—with appropriate court approval—an encryption key that would ultimately provide access to unencrypted data on a specific device. According to Ozzie, the proposal would give law enforcement the data it needs from one device without creating an entry point for all of a company’s products, and, because it freezes the data on the phone, it doesn’t create a tool for ongoing surveillance.
But civil liberties and cryptography experts were quick to rebuke the proposal, noting that it still involves having companies build a vulnerability into their products and stockpile the keys necessary to unlock those products in a manner that will invite attack from hackers.
A better deal. After meeting months of meeting with startups across the country, House Democrats unveiled a new plank of their “A Better Deal” agenda aimed at helping Americans succeed in the 21st century economy, including boosting tech education, increasing access to the Internet, and restoring online privacy and net neutrality protections.
A full FTC. The Senate unanimously confirmed a full slate of commissioners to take over the empty spots at the Federal Trade Commission.
New EU rules? European policymakers laid out a proposal this week to govern how major tech companies make commercial deals with smaller companies.
Merger talk. Reuters reports that T-Mobile and Sprint have made progress negotiating a merger deal and could announce a deal as early as next week.
High tech visa crackdown. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has laid out its planned changes that will impact the ability of STEM-educated employees, their spouses, and foreign investors to come to the U.S.
#StartupsEverywhere: Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is quickly becoming a premier cultural and economic hub of the Southeast. The city’s startup ecosystem has benefited from this growth, leveraging the presence of major universities and an engaged local government. Charlton Cunningham of Startup Atlanta explained some of these changes Atlanta is undergoing and how startups can become an essential part of the city’s future.
Don’t miss the bus! Revolution is hitting the road again for their seventh Rise of the Rest Tour May 7-11. If you are in Dallas, Memphis, Birmingham, Chattanooga, or Louisville, be sure to join Engine and the Revolution team.
Ones to watch. TechNYC has pulled together a list of the five tech companies coming out of New York to watch this year.