Startup News Digest 9/8/17

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: Trump Rescinds DACA. President Donald Trump’s administration announced this week that it will phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era policy that let 800,000 law-abiding undocumented immigrants stay and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation for renewable two-year periods. The administration’s decision gives Congress six months to pass immigration legislation before DACA protections are phased out.

Tech industry leaders decried the announcement: Apple’s Tim Cook called this a “setback for our nation,” noted that his company employees more than 200 people affected by the announcement, and issued “an urgent plea for our leaders in Washington to protect” DACA recipients. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg called the move “particularly cruel” considering DACA recipients came out of the shadows after being promised protection by the U.S. government and warned lawmakers, “inaction now is unacceptable.” Microsoft’s Brad Smith called legislation to protect DACA recipients “an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity” and said the government will have to go through Microsoft if it wants to deport any of the company’s employees.

As we said in our statement, we at Engine understand the American dream as well as anyone, and we oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to punish the 800,000 people who came here as children and pursued that American dream, contributing to our economy and our communities in the process. Like others, we encourage Congress to act quickly to enact legislation to fix the country’s immigration system.

What’s Happening in Policy:

Licensing Rules to Help, Not Hurt Startups. In an op-ed, Rachel breaks down how some state occupational licensing boards have hurt startups and competition and how a new bill from Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Mike Lee could fix that.

House Passes Autonomous Vehicle Bill. The House passed a bill this week that would task the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with regulating safety, privacy, and security when it comes to self-driving cars. The Senate Commerce Committee will host a hearing on self-driving trucks next week.

Techdirt Wins Defamation Case. A federal judge dismissed a defamation case against tech news site Techdirt centered around the site’s debunking of a man who claimed to have invented email. The ruling said the site’s reporting is protected speech and that the site is protected from liability for comments left by its users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

FCC Extends Deadline for Broadband Comments. The FCC announced this week that it would extend by two weeks the deadline to submit comments about broadband availability across the country for an annual report. Some fear that the FCC could use this report to lower the bar for ISPs’ broadband deployment efforts, making it difficult to justify some regulations.

Another Tech Panel Sits Silent. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) currently has no members under the Trump administration, and the executive order authorizing the group expires at the end of the month, according to Recode. A spokesman told Recode that Trump intends to extend the group’s charter, but the office tasked with appointing people to the council -- the Office of Science and Technology Policy -- is still without a director.

Bringing Startup Activity to the Rust Belt. In Politico, Tusk Ventures’ Bradley Tusk and Seth London lay out a play to boost startup activity in the U.S. Rust Belt. “The idea would be to create a modest federal grant program incentivizing state lawmakers to develop a more startup-friendly business environment,” they write. “Such a program would be a political victory for Democrats and Republicans, and more important, it would deliver real economic benefits to the Rust Belt.”

Startup Roundup:

  • WeWork Talks AI. Coworking space visionary WeWork talks about the role of artificial intelligence in the working spaces of the future.

  • Hacking for Good. Coders across the country are prepping for the 2017 National Day of Civic Hacking.

  • IoT Companies Waiting in the Wings. Entrepreneur Magazine looks at 25 companies making innovative connected devices and platforms, featuring everything from TV remote apps to indoor herb gardens.