Startup News Digest 9/29/17

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: Lawmakers’ $40B Ask for Internet Access. Democrats in the House and the Senate have added boosting Internet access to their economic agenda.

On Thursday, a group of Democrats in the Senate and House unveiled their plan “to bring Internet to every farm, school, and neighborhood.” Crafted in the image of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s efforts to make electricity available across the country, Democrats’ outlined their goal of bringing high-speed broadband to the 34 million Americans who don’t currently have it, including in the rural, remote, tribal, and urban areas that are underserved by private broadband providers.

The $40 billion in funding would be available to local governments, private-public partnerships and more, and the program would be cost effective by attempting to use existing infrastructure, having providers compete over who can provide the best quality at the lowest price, and linking the federal funding with state-level funding.


What’s Happening in Policy:

Section 230 in the House. As in, in the House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, which is holding a hearing next week on online sex trafficking and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That’s the foundational Internet law that protects platforms from being held responsible for what their users say. Our Executive Director Evan Engstrom will testify at the hearing, representing the voice of startups.

Startup Act Reintroduced. Sens. Jerry Moran and Mark Warner have reintroduced their Startup Act, a bill that would boost the country’s startup ecosystem, including by making it easier for immigrants to create and work for startups here in the U.S.

Democrats Oppose Pai’s Next Term. The Senate voted 55-41 this week to move ahead with reconfirming Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for another term on the commission. Senate Democrats took to the Senate floor to oppose his confirmation, with many citing his plans to roll back the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules.

Net Neutrality’s Day in (Supreme) Court? Internet Service Providers and their trade groups are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a federal court’s decision last year to uphold the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules.

You Can Hear Me Now. Over concerns from the commission’s Democratic members, the FCC approved an annual and congressionally-mandated report this week which found that the country’s wireless market is competitive.

New Antitrust Chief. The Senate voted this week to confirm corporate lawyer Makan Delrahim, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, an agency slated to review a number of high-profile tech and telecom mergers.

Trumps’ Tech Push. President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week that directs the Education Department to put $200 million towards STEM and computer science education each year. The next day, his daughter Ivanka Trump spoke at an event in Detroit, Michigan where companies like General Motors and Quicken Loans announced a $300 million commitment to expand computer science education.

Driverless Deal. Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee reached a deal on a new bill aimed at getting self-driving vehicles safely on the road. The bill will be considered at a committee meeting next week.

Startup Roundup:

  • Help at Your Fingertips: Quartz looks at how tech companies, including Texas-based walkie-talkie app company Zello, are using their platforms in the wake of recent natural disasters.

  • A Sign of the Times. Uber is encouraging its users to learn their names and basic phrases in American Sign Language so they can more easily communicate with Uber drivers who are deaf and hard of hearing.

  • Phoenix Rising. VentureBeat explains why Phoenix, Arizona is a great place to be a startup.