Startup News Digest 7/27/2018

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: Law enforcement’s low hanging fruit. A new report out this week highlights the many problems law enforcement agencies at all levels face when trying to access digital information.

The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies adds new specifics to the debate over law enforcement access to data. This debate has largely centered on law enforcement’s claim that encryption has prevented access to data, especially as federal law enforcement officials have made repeated calls for companies to use “responsible encryption” and build "backdoors," or intentional vulnerabilities into their products to facilitate law enforcement access. Engine has long opposed mandated backdoors, which will harm the many startups that rely on encryption to offer secure products and services to their users.

But, according to the report, there are several problems that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies face when trying to access digital evidence that have nothing to do with encryption, including limited technical resources and training and problems identifying which companies have relevant data.


Policy Roundup:

Online sales tax worries. One month after the Supreme Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, which subjects startups to a 50-state patchwork of online sales tax, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to explore the impact on small businesses. In comments for the record and an op-ed in Morning Consult, we explain the impact this will have on startups.  

Data Transfer Project. Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Facebook announced a joint project this week on data portability and interoperability that will let users transfer their photos, messages, contacts and more between platforms.

EU global digital tax proposals. At the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires, European finance leaders stressed a need to modernize taxation rules for the digital economy. Critics argue it is difficult to measure digital business activity for tax purposes and that these measures would disproportionately target large American tech companies.  

Tariffs on tech. As the trade wars continue to heat up, expect to see prices rise on many tech products, including wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, and speakers like Sonos.

The technophile senator. The Verge sat down with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for a wide-ranging interview on all things Internet policy.


Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Philadelphia, PA. Kiera Smalls, Executive Director of Philly Startup Leaders (PSL), is leading the charge as she builds a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem for innovators to thrive in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia startup community is partnering with lawmakers to ensure it is reflective of Philadelphia’s diverse population. While there is still room for growth, lawmakers have made diversity and inclusion a priority for Philly’s entrepreneur community.

Startup Week Across America. Engine, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Economic Innovation Group, and the Center for American Entrepreneurship, will host Startup Week Across America August 20-24, 2018. We have invited all members of the House of Representatives to meet with startup constituents in their district. Interested in getting involved? Contact Jen Fox at or 631-742-9044.

Do you know a great intern looking to learn more about tech policy in Washington, D.C .this Fall? Apply to be an Engine Fellow through the Charles Koch Institute Internship Program.