Startup News Digest 9/1/17

Continuing to Make the Case About Net Neutrality for Startups. This week, we filed our reply comments to the FCC on proposal to roll back the net neutrality rules put in place in 2015, a docket that has now seen more than 21 million comments. In our reply comments, we continued to make the case the case that upfront, bright-line net neutrality protections are necessary to keep the Internet the level playing field that led to the startup ecosystem we have in the U.S. today. We also specifically pushed back on arguments from Internet service providers and others that other, less rigorous legal frameworks would be a suitable alternative to the 2015 rules enforced by the FCC.

This week’s #StartupsEverywhere: Fargo, ND. In time for the Startup Champions Network summit in Fargo later this month, we spoke with John Machacek, the Senior Vice President of Finance & Entrepreneurial Development at the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. It may surprise you, but the state of North Dakota has the third highest rate of startup activity; John was able to tell us why. He explained, “There is so much collaboration between government, education, industry, providers, startups and just others who want to see others succeed. Many of these people -- school officials, entrepreneurs, bankers, etc. -- see themselves as part of the same team so their work is not totally self-serving or ego-driven.” Read the full profile here.

Tech Groups Team up for Balanced Copyright Policy in Trade Deals. Engine joined other tech groups in asking the U.S. Trade Representative to incorporate “ a strong and balanced copyright framework based on U.S. law” in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations to modernize NAFTA kicked off in D.C. earlier this month. As we said in the letter -- also signed by the Internet Association, Consumer Technology Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association -- including the flexibility in U.S. copyright law in NAFTA “will advance U.S. digital economy leadership and has the potential to spur untold future American innovation and economic growth.”

Trump Picks New Nominee to Lead PTO. President Donald Trump has nominated intellectual property lawyer Andrei Iancu to lead the Patent and Trademark Office. As we said in our statement, we look forward to working with him if he is confirmed to ensure the country’s patent system benefits all innovators. Specifically, we hope to see the PTO continue its work to invalidate vague, broad, and otherwise harmful patents through post-grant review processes to ensure bad patents can’t be weaponized by patent trolls.

Tech Companies Work to Make Voice Data Available. Fast Company takes a look at the the steps steps Mozilla and Google have taken to make it easier for anyone looking to enter the world of voice recognition technology, which currently requires acquiring thousands of audio files. Late last month, Google released a crowdsourced collection of 65,000 one-second voice recordings. Earlier this summer, Mozilla unveiled Common Voice, a platform to collect voice samples, with the hopes of releasing 10,000 hours of audio later this year.

Trump’s Cyber Advisory Panel Loses Members. A panel of cybersecurity advisors to the Homeland Security Department lost eight members last month, with some of the departing members citing President Donald Trump’s comments on the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and inaction on cybersecurity issues, according to DefenseOne. “My experience to date has not demonstrated that the Administration is adequately attentive to the pressing national security matters within the [National Infrastructure Advisory Council's] purview, or responsive to sound advice received from experts and advisors on these matters,” the resignation letter said.

Tim Cook on Apple’s Altruistic Agenda. The New York Times sat down with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who talked about his push for the company to run on renewable energy, his focus on educating people for 21st century jobs, and what he sees as his “moral responsibility to help grow the economy, to help grow jobs, to contribute to this country and to contribute to the other countries that we do business in.”