Startup News Digest 10/11/19

The Big Story: U.S. acts on Chinese firms. The U.S. Commerce Department added eight Chinese artificial intelligence companies to its trade blacklist this week, even as reports emerged that the Trump administration plans to issue licenses to allow some U.S. companies to continue supplying nonsensitive products to Chinese telecoms firm Huawei. The decisions both came as the U.S. and China resumed discussions this week to resolve their ongoing trade dispute.

The eight firms were part of 28 Chinese entities that the Commerce Department added to its blacklist because of their involvement in Beijing’s ongoing repression of the country's Uyghur population. The inclusion of the eight AI companies — including several that are among China’s most advanced firms—threatens their access to U.S. chips and other critical components. President Donald Trump also reportedly approved plans to begin issuing U.S. companies licenses to continue working with Huawei, another Chinese firm that was blacklisted in May because of national security concerns. The administration in August, however, issued U.S. companies a temporary reprieve to continue doing business with the firm. 

The Nuts and Bolts of Encryption. Join Engine and the Charles Koch Institute at noon next Friday, Oct. 18, for the final panel in our three-part series on the nuts and bolts of encryption. We’ll be looking at the communities that would be impacted by law enforcement's request for "backdoor" access to encrypted services, including a "game" where attendees will wade through the costs and benefits of building intentional vulnerabilities. Learn more and RSVP here

Policy Roundup:

Facebook CEO to Testify at House Panel About Libra. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Oct. 23 to discuss Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency. The news that Zuckerberg will appear at the upcoming hearing came after the European Union announced plans to introduce legislation that would prevent Libra from being misused and impacting central bank activities.

Supreme Court denies petition in website accessibility case. The Supreme Court turned down Domino’s Pizza’s appeal of federal court ruling that found that the pizza company’s online platform needs to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Opponents of the decision said that no clear rules exist for “imposing a nationwide website-accessibility mandate,” and expressed concerns about a “tsunami of litigation” as a result of the ruling.

230 hearing without Lighthizer. Two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees are holding a hearing at 10 am next Wednesday, Oct. 16 to discuss “fostering a healthier Internet to protect consumers.” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined the committee’s invitation to testify about the inclusion of Section 230-like protections in trade agreements.

ACLU, Niskanen Center highlight CASE Act flaws. A pair of op-eds came out this week expressing concerns about the CASE Act, a bill that would establish an extra-judicial board within the U.S. Copyright Office to adjudicate copyright infringement claims. The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the bill threatens free speech and due process, while the Niskanen Center said the proposed bill would worsen the problems it seeks to fix by opening small businesses up to potentially debilitating suits. 

CCPA could cost up to $55 billion in compliance costs. An economic impact assessment released by the California’s Department of Finance found that the state’s new privacy law—the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)—could cost companies up to $55 billion in initial compliance costs.