Startup News Digest 10/04/19

The Big Story: Federal court issues ruling on net neutrality. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit this week upheld parts of the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 repeal of the popular net neutrality rules, although the court struck down a portion of the agency’s order that kept states from enacting their own net neutrality regulations.

In a statement following the court decision, Engine’s Executive Director Evan Engstrom said that “the court’s decision underscores how important it is for Congress to take immediate action on the Save the Internet Act, which would fully restore the FCC’s strong 2015 net neutrality rules.” Entrepreneurs in particular support strong net neutrality protections because they allow the Internet to remain a level playing field for startups. Earlier this year, Engine led a letter signed by over 160 startups in support of the Save the Internet Act, which passed the House in April. The Senate should now follow the House’s lead and hold a vote on this critical piece of legislation. 

The Nuts and Bolts of Encryption. Join Engine and the Charles Koch Institute today at noon for the second panel in our three-part series on the nuts and bolts of encryption. We’ll be discussing the evolving global policy landscape around encryption. Learn more and RSVP here.

Policy Roundup:

EU's top court says platforms can be forced to delete content. The European Court of Justice ruled that countries can force Facebook to remove illegal content from its platform worldwide. This far-reaching decision will likely force Internet platforms to apply heightened moderation practices to content from users around the globe, and it raises concerns about the costs of those heightened moderation practices, especially for startups.

Lawmakers establish House Entrepreneurship Caucus. This week, Reps. French Hill (R-Ark.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), and Marc Veasey (D-Texas) launched the House Entrepreneurship Caucus to promote entrepreneurship in the United States, encourage economic growth, and foster innovation. Engine is proud to support the creation of this caucus, and we look forward to continuing a dialogue around entrepreneurship.

Senators wants platforms to do more about deepfakes. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent letters this week to 11 social media platforms asking companies to create policies and standards to help combat digitally manipulated videos known as deepfakes.

CASE Act concerns. The Niskanen Center takes on the constitutional concerns of the CASE Act, proposed legislation that would create an extra-judicial body to adjudicate copyright infringement and open startups and their users to new risks. Also this week, San Francisco-based companies wrote to their lawmakers expressing “significant concerns” with the CASE Act as currently written. 

Upcoming hearings on content moderation, small business. Two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees have announced a joint hearing on Oct. 16 to examine “online content moderation practices and whether consumers are adequately protected under current law.” The House Small Business Committee is also planning to invite officials from Amazon, Google, and Facebook to a hearing this fall to discuss their impact on small businesses. 

Engine responds to USPTO on proposed fee increases. Engine submitted comments this week in response to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s proposed rule to increase fees for all of the agency's services, including patent applications, examination, maintenance, and post-grant proceedings.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh may be nicknamed the Steel City, but a new and exciting startup is highlighting the growing entrepreneurial community emerging in western Pennsylvania. Shimira Williams, the co-founder of C.C. Busy and a former child care provider, is using voice assistant devices to help providers do their jobs better -- an approach that has already garnered early interest from the state of Pennsylvania, nonprofits, and child care providers.