Startup News Digest 4/6/2018

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: Lawmakers tee up net neutrality hearings. Lawmakers in Congress and in the California Senate have announced that they’re going to tackle net neutrality in hearings later this month.

At the federal level, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on technology will hold a hearing on paid prioritization on April 17. While there is general agreement on some of the most basic tenets of net neutrality, paid prioritization—or allowing ISPs to charge for better access to users or slow down the traffic of websites and online services that don’t pay—continues to remain a point of disagreement. Engine has long warned that paid prioritization will harm startups, which can’t afford to pay more than deep-pocketed incumbents for access to users.

At the state level, California’s Senate Bill 822 will be the focus of a hearing at the state Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee on April 17. SB 822 from Sen. Scott Wiener would reinstate the 2015 net neutrality protections that the FCC voted late last year to repeal. It would also ensure that ISPs can’t circumvent those protections by manipulating traffic at interconnection points or by charging companies to exempt their websites or services from users’ data caps.

If you’re a startup in California and want to voice your support for SB 822, sign onto Engine’s letter.

Policy Roundup:

The CASE Act heads to a markup in the House Judiciary Committee. H.R. 3945, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2017, could be ruinous for startups as the legislation creates potential traps for small startups and incentivizes bad faith claims against users and companies alike.

Zuckerberg heads to the hill. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be on the Hill next week to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees. The hearings come after weeks of controversy around Cambridge Analytica’s access to and use of Facebook user data.

Massachusetts cleared to sue Equifax. A state judge ruled this week to allow Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s suit against Equifax over the company’s massive data breach to proceed.

A blockchain exemption from EU privacy requirements? CoinCenter made the case this week that blockchain technology applications are fundamentally incompatible with the General Data Protection Regulation set to go into effect in Europe next month.

Fighting bias in AI. Wired looks at the way software engineers are attempting to combat bias in facial recognition technology.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Austin, Texas.
Austin has rapidly transformed Central Texas into one of the world’s foremost technology and innovation regions. This week, we talked to Joshua Baer of Capital Factory, who cites the city’s community-minded entrepreneurs and the active involvement of the University of Texas as inputs to the ecosystem’s growth.