Startup News Digest 5/10/19

The Big Story. FTC supports national data privacy framework. Members of the Federal Trade Commission pushed lawmakers on a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee to create a national data privacy framework that would regulate how tech companies handle and use consumer data. FTC Chairman Joseph Simons urged lawmakers to enact legislation that would be enforceable by the FTC, although Republican commissioners stressed the need to craft balanced legislation that would not unduly burden small companies.

Despite their support for a federal privacy bill, the FTC commissioners also told the subcommittee that gaps within the agency’s oversight abilities and a lack of needed resources have hurt the FTC's ability to police tech companies. The agency’s commissioners asked that lawmakers work to update the FTC’s statutory authority in order to better allow it to make rules and assess fines against companies. Lawmakers were divided over whether they should further empower the FTC.

Leading industry and congressional voices also called this week for a national privacy framework that would supersede state laws. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, said in an op-ed that federal lawmakers need to craft national data privacy legislation that preempts state efforts in order to avoid conflicting laws that would hamper innovation. Shapiro’s op-ed echoed a similar one from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) that expressed similar concerns that “50 different state laws could fragment the internet.”

Policy Roundup:

In DC next Friday? Join us for our final "Nuts and Bolts of User Privacy" event. Engine and the Charles Koch Institute will be hosting a Hill panel on Friday, May 17 at noon to discuss what’s happened since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation was implemented last May. Learn more and RSVP here.

Senate fight looms for net neutrality legislation. Last 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. Your participation would go a long way in helping to convince the Senate to pass this much-needed bill. Please join us in voicing support for strong net neutrality protections. You can view the letter here and sign on here.

One year later, GDPR frustrations mount. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation enshrined sweeping data privacy protections into law when it went into effect last May, but consumers, regulators, and small businesses all say they’ve been frustrated and confused by the law since it was implemented.

Is Europe going overboard censoring online content? European governments have been actively combating the spread of online hate speech, misinformation, and violent content through a combination of new laws and regulations over the past five years, but now some people are saying regulators have gone too far in their efforts to stifle dissent.

FCC votes to ban Chinese telecom firm from U.S. market. The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted to block China Mobile, one of the world’s largest telecom companies, from entering the U.S. market because of national security concerns. The vote comes amidst reports that the White House is planning to ban U.S. companies from using products made by Chinese telecoms firms Huawei and ZTE over similar security concerns.

Improving the federal government’s use of artificial intelligence. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate reintroduced the AI in Government Act to improve the government’s understanding, use, and reliance of next-generation technology. Engine released a statement in support of the bill’s efforts to bring entrepreneurs and federal agencies together to discuss how AI can best be used for the public interest.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Lehi, Utah. Kiln, a coworking space with two locations in the state--one in Lehi and a second in Salt Lake City--is one of the companies fueling Utah’s ongoing tech goldrush by providing startups with a modern and sleek community-focused environment in which to grow. Emily Smith, Kiln’s general manager, takes us inside the company’s work and explains how the Salt Lake City region has evolved into a leading tech sector destination for startups.