Startup News Digest 4/26/19

The Big Story: Censoring online content. Sri Lanka’s government blocked social media throughout the entire country to prevent the spread of extremist or misleading online content after a series of devastating bombings at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday killed over 250 people. 

Meanwhile, New Zealand and France discussed blocking extremist content online after the perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings last month live-streamed his attack. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plans to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron next month in the hopes of forging an agreement between government bodies and tech companies to remove violent extremist content from the Internet. 

The European Commission also re-upped demands for online platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to remove fake news ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections, criticizing all three platforms for not being more transparent or expeditious with their efforts.  

Policy Roundup:

In DC next week? Join us for our second "Nuts and Bolts of User Privacy" event. Engine and the Charles Koch Institute will be hosting a Hill panel on Friday, May 3 at noon to discuss the buzzwords of data privacy, including what it means to have data anonymized and aggregated, what privacy harms can arise from that kind of data, and what companies and policymakers can do to mitigate those harms. Learn more and RSVP here.

Continuing to support an open Internet. Earlier this month, over 120 startups joined Engine in calling on the House to pass the Save the Internet Act, which would reinstate the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality protections. We're resending our letter with updated wording to Senate leadership, encouraging them to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. You can view the letter here and sign on here

Federal agencies looking at startups for acquisitions. Federal agencies are reworking their acquisition strategies to better engage startups and the innovation community as they seek nontraditional sources for tech procurement.

GDPR enforcement muted by Ireland’s tech relationships. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which imposed new rules for how companies can handle user data, is being significantly undermined by the fact that the designated lead regulator--Ireland--has yet to bring an enforcement action against tech companies and has maintained close ties with large companies.

Facebook expects unprecedented FTC fine. Facebook said it expects to pay a fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s ongoing investigation into how the social media platform handles the personal data of its users. A fine of that amount would be unprecedented, and would be an indication of the FTC’s growing concern with how user data is utilized and secured by companies.

Startup Roundup:

Lawmakers use congressional recess to engage entrepreneurs. Although Congress has been on recess for the past two weeks, that hasn't stopped lawmakers from connecting with startups and small business entrepreneurs back home.

#StartupsEverywhere. Las Vegas, Nevada. Many people think of Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world, but policymakers in Nevada are increasingly viewing the vibrant city as a growing hub of innovation for the state’s startup community. In downtown Las Vegas, entrepreneurs are increasingly flocking to coworking space Work in Progress (WIP) to put their creative talents, innovative ideas, and business acumen into action.