Startup News Digest 8/10/2018

The Big Story: FCC wrong about net neutrality comment ‘attacks.’ The Federal Communications Commission repeatedly made inaccurate statements about supposed distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks related to last year’s net neutrality proceeding, according to a new report from the agency’s internal watchdog. 

The FCC’s 2017 proceeding to repeal its strong net neutrality rules—which kept ISPs from blocking or slowing access to online content and kept the Internet a level playing field for startups—prompted millions of public comments submitted through the agency’s online comment portal. The comments especially spiked after comedian John Oliver did a segment on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” and prompted viewers to voice objections using the FCC’s portal.

When the public comment system went down in the wake of the outpouring of comments, the FCC blamed DDoS attacks, including in repeated comments to Congress. But, according to the report, there was no evidence of a coordinated DDoS attack. While making false statements to Congress can prompt legal consequences, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute.

Policy Roundup: 

Protecting speech, protecting users. Between the InfoWars takedowns this week and the House Judiciary Committee hearing on content moderation earlier this summer, the role of Internet platforms has been in the spotlight. In a new blog post, Evan explains how platforms rely on Section 230 to both protect free speech and ensure user safety online.

Looking to SCOTUS on net neutrality. The Justice Department and FCC moved this week to have the Supreme Court reverse the 2016 ruling by a federal court that upheld the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules.

Tariffs are a tax. The new list of tariffs being placed on Chinese imports will disproportionately impact the technology sector and will further increase the price of goods for consumers. For startups, the tariffs will serve as barriers to entry and decreased competitiveness for American products. 

GDPR repercussions. It’s been over two months since the GDPR was implemented, and over two years since it was announced, but still many U.S. news sites have been unable to comply with its requirements in time. Well-known publications such as the Los Angeles times are still blocked in most European countries and others, like Instapaper, have only just become GDPR compliant.

The broadband rip off. Tens of millions of broadband customers are receiving subpar Internet service but paying high rates—comparable to the rates paid by subscribers who receive better service—according to a new report from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.

NYC caps ride-share licenses. After Wednesday’s City Council vote, New York has become the first U.S. city to place restrictions on the growth of ride-sharing. For 12 months, no new “for-hire vehicle” licenses will be issued while the city uses the time to study the impacts of the ride-sharing industry.

Startup Roundup: 

Last call to get involved with 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.

#StartupsEverywhere: West Virginia. West Virginia’s mountainous terrain may be a challenge, but certainly doesn’t divide the state’s entrepreneurs, according to Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia. TechConnectWV is a non-profit organization focused on driving innovation, cultivating entrepreneurship, and creating greater economic diversity throughout West Virginia. By leveraging resources across the state, the entire startup ecosystem in West Virginia becomes stronger.

Gig economy cities. How does your city stack up for gig economy jobs? It is estimated that freelance Americans are contributing nearly $1.4 trillion to the economy every year. Check out this list of the top 15 cities for gig economy jobs. 

Vote for Engine’s SXSW Panels. It’s that time of year again, the SXSW Panelpicker is open, and team Engine has two panels in the running. “Disrupting Policy in the District and Beyond” -- In today’s age of political gridlock, startups are increasingly disrupting policymaking. Our panel will highlight the intersection of innovation, advocacy and policy.  And “Can a Computer Invent?” which will explore the patentability of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Polls close August 30, so vote today!