Startup News Digest 8/17/2018

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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Startup Week Across America. In partnership with Reps. Suzan K. DelBene, Susan Brooks, Yvette Clarke, Randy Hultgren, Jerry McNerney and Mimi Walters, Engine, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Economic Innovation Group, and the Center for American Entrepreneurship, we are excited to celebrate Startup Week Across America from August 20 through August 24. Next week, entrepreneurs from across the nation will meet with their representatives to build relationships and discuss the importance of ingenuity and innovation to the American economy. Last week, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) met with Asarasi Sparkling Water and Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) toured the Cannon.


The Big Story: Tech in the big defense bill. President Donald Trump signed into law this week a sweeping, annual defense authorization bill, which included several provisions that could impact the technology sector.

Among the provisions was one that expands the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a federal body tasked with examining foreign investment in U.S. companies that could pose national security threats. The provision expands CFIUS review to investments in companies that use “emerging” technologies. Many in the tech world worry that the expanded reviews could sweep in foreign investments in companies that only use “emerging” technologies, like artificial intelligence, as part of the product or service they’re offering.

The defense authorization bill also includes a measure that will keep the U.S. government and government contractors from using devices containing “essential” components made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.


Policy Roundup:

Australia’s encryption proposal. The Australian government has a proposal to give law enforcement officials access to private encrypted data with a court warrant. Failure to comply with this law, which is yet to be presented in parliament, will result in hefty fines or even jail time. Americans for Prosperity’s David Barnes explains in The Hill why there’s no such thing as a safe backdoor.

Shakeup at PTAB. The Chief Judge for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board was reassigned to a new role, opening a vacancy for the top spot on the Patent and Trademark Office’s key review board. The PTAB oversees the Inter Partes Review process, an important tool for startups to challenge low quality patents.

NAFTA one-year anniversary. It’s officially been one year since the Trump administration officially launched the renegotiation of the the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trade negotiators appear to be no closer to reaching a final agreement on key pieces.  

Questions on FCC comment ‘attacks.’ During an agency oversight hearing this week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai faced questions from lawmakers about the FCC’s inaccurate statements about the agency’s website malfunction during last year’s net neutrality debate.

Healthcare data interoperability. A number of large tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM, have committed to improving healthcare data sharing in a move that has been backed by the White House.  


Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Washington, D.C. By utilizing her passion for storytelling, Jay Newton-Small created MemoryWell, a startup that seeks to improve the long-term care of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She leaned on D.C.'s ecosystem with strong partners in the aging space to grow her company. However, Jay hopes the government will play a bigger role in convening innovators and traditional partners to better support the aging industry.

Engine’s SXSW Panel Picker Guide. Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of interesting panels happening at SXSW? Check out our SXSW Panel Picker Guide. Polls close August 30, so vote today!

Dislike Local Regulation? Brobilize. Startups like Bird and Doordash are starting to activate users to help weigh in on local policy issues in the new “click-to-lobby” movement.