Startup News Digest: 6/3/2016

Our weekly take on some of the biggest stories in startup and tech policy.

News from Across the Atlantic. We’ll start with the bad news: the future for the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield is looking grim. As a refresher, in February, U.S. and EU negotiators reached a draft agreement on a restored data transfer pact between the U.S. and EU. But the draft was dealt two blows over the past week: first, European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli said the shield needs “robust improvements,” and then the European Parliament passed a resolution that the deal violates the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. This adds uncertainty to what has already been a drawn-out, complicated process, and leaves startups in limbo. But onto the good news: the European Commission issued guidelines this week cautioning EU member states to go easy on the “sharing economy.” Banning services like AirBnB or Uber should be a last resort, and any regulations should be justified and proportionate to the public interest at stake, the draft document states.

Driverless Car Laws in Michigan. Autonomous vehicles may soon move beyond the testing phase and into operation in Michigan. The U.S. auto industry’s home state has introduced a package of bills that would loosen restrictions around driverless vehicles and make Michigan the first state to allow for both the sale and operation of self-driving cars. As more and more states pass laws related to autonomous vehicles, this package is an effort by Michigan to stay ahead of the curve and maintain its leading role in research and development in the sector. The state Senate will vote on the bills this summer.  

House Forms IoT Working Group. It’s been a busy couple of months for the Internet of Things (IoT) in D.C. In April, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the DIGIT Act (S. 2607), which would create a working group of federal and private stakeholders to explore the possibilities of IoT. Then, last week, Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH) and Peter Welch (D-VT) created a bipartisan working group within the House of Representatives to educate members on IoT and explore issues surrounding the growing industry. As the two representatives note in an op-ed in the Hill, “The Internet of Things has the potential to be the engine that powers our economy for decades to come. Congress’ understanding and exploration of this next technology frontier will be critical to the lasting acceptance, growth, and prosperity of the Internet of Things.” The working group will produce a report on their findings at the end of this year.

The State of the Internet, in 200 Slides. The 21st annual Internet Trends report compiled by venture capitalist Mary Meeker is out, revealing some compelling numbers about the state of the internet. For one, the growth of internet users worldwide has slowed, hovering around 3 billion people. Other findings in the 200-page report shed light on opportunities for businesses from where they should spend advertising dollars to how they should market to millennials. The report also includes a slide listing world’s top 20 internet companies, which one analyst for the Washington Post remarks on: “Thanks to a long-standing U.S. policy of “permissionless innovation,” over half are American companies, and seven are Chinese — the result of an admittedly very different industrial policy,” and continues, “Remarkably...not a single one comes from the highly-regulated but badly fragmented European Union.”