Startup News Digest: 6/23/17

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

Trump Talks Tech... President Trump hosted “Tech Week” this week at the White House. Events held earlier in the week included a meeting with tech company CEOs to discuss a number of policy issues including cybersecurity, tax reform, and updating the government’s technology. CEOs from 18 leading tech companies attended including Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Intel. Later in the week, the White House held meetings with investors and executives to discuss emerging technologies like drones, 5G wireless expansion, and artificial intelligence.

...And Broadband. One area where the Trump Administration did pledge to spend more time and money was the expansion of rural broadband. As part of Tech Week, the President traveled to Iowa to highlight the need for internet connectivity to promote innovation in areas like precision farming. The Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai also focused on expanding rural broadband in a number of speeches this week. While the Administration does not have a specific proposal at this point, the President indicated that his upcoming infrastructure proposal will include a provision to foster broadband buildout in rural America. 

Self Driving Car Law Proposed. Emerging tech was also top of mind in Congress with week, with members in both the House and Senate focusing on autonomous vehicles. In the Senate, Senators John Thune (R-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced a set of bipartisan principles for regulating the development of autonomous vehicle technologies. The principles include safety prioritization, strengthening cybersecurity protocols, and educating the public about responsible adoption of autonomous vehicles. House Republicans also began circulating a 14-bill package that would establish the regulatory framework for developing autonomous vehicles. Notably, the proposed framework would preempt state regulations that have already been promulgated (for example, California’s requirement that companies testing AV’s make crash data public). The House bill would grant federal regulators a bigger role in developing rules, guidelines, and procedures, potentially simplifying the patchwork of regulations that exist at the state and local level.

Trump Delays Immigrant Entrepreneur Program. The Trump Administration announced this week that it plans to delay the implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which was set to go into effect on July 17. The rule, which was originally approved by the Department of Homeland Security at the tail end of President Obama’s time in office, would create a new path for foreign-born founders to start their companies in the U.S. The startup community has been fighting for years for reforms that would allow the world’s brightest innovators to found their companies in America, and the rule was welcomed by many, including Engine. However, the Trump Administration’s plan would push the rule’s effective date to March 2018 with a high probability that it will be scrapped altogether. We’re tracking.

Digging in on Net Neutrality. Engine helped to convene a roundtable between Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Mozilla, Gigi Sohn (former counselor to FCC Chairman Wheeler), and a number of Bay Area startups on Monday to discuss net neutrality and the potential impacts of the FCC’s proposed rulemaking. The participating companies highlighted they challenges they would have faced getting off the ground absent net neutrality and the Congresswoman highlighted the importance of creating a robust record in support of a free and open internet. A recording of the conversation can be watched here. Two days later, Engine Policy Director, Rachel Wolbers, spoke on a panel at the Open Technology Institute discussing net neutrality and the economy. The panel explored how the FCC’s rules promote investment, create jobs, and protect consumers. The entire program can be watched here.   

New Video on Notice and Takedown. The Re:Create coalition released a new video illustrating the importance of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in protecting free speech online. The video helps explain why protecting Section 512 from attack is crucial to maintaining this balance and to promoting online creativity and innovation. Startups rely on a delicate balance between protecting copyrighted content online and giving consumers and creators the freedom to legally access and add to existing materials, Section 512 is incredibly important to that balance.  

Copyright Office Report Looks at Anti-circumvention. In more copyright-related news, the U.S. Copyright Office released a report on Thursday looking at Section 1201 of Title 17, which examines the legal protections for technological protection measures (TPMs) used by copyright owners to prevent unauthorized access to or use of their works. The report does not recommend altering the basic framework of the law, but recommends legislative solutions to expand exemptions for technologies like encryption and the right to repair devices. Startups benefit from flexible 1201 rules that promote innovative ways to build upon existing technologies and should welcome the recommendations. You can read the full report here

This Week’s #StartupsEverywhere Profile: Rick Turoczy (Portland, OR). We published our 20th #StartupsEverywhere interview this week, highlighting the thriving startup community in Portland, OR and the work of Rick Turoczy, an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder whose efforts to foster startup growth in Portland span more than two decades. His blog, Silicon Florist, highlights startup happenings in the region and he co-founded the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), a curated co-working space. Read the full profile here.

Our Second ‘Nuts and Bolts of Encryption’ Event is Wednesday. Join Engine, The Charles Koch Institute, Tech Freedom, and the Congressional Tech Staff Association for a conversation about the historical background of the encryption debate as well as real life examples of how encryption is being used today. Experts Amie Stepanovich (Access Now), Nick Feamster (Princeton University) and Peter Van Valkenburgh (Coin Center) will explore the technical issues around government’s access to data and how technology is tackling issues relating to privacy, security and data analytics. The event will be held in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2247 and lunch from Taylor Gourmet will be provided. If you are interested in attending, you can register here.