Startup News Digest 5/31/19

Big Story. FCC broadband access report scrutinized. The Federal Communications Commission released its 2019 Broadband Deployment Report this week, which said that more Americans than ever before now have access to high-speed broadband.

The report found that the number of U.S. residents without access to high-speed broadband decreased by over 18 percent between 2017 and 2018, although critics questioned the accuracy of the report’s figures. The FCC’s two Democratic commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks, issued dissenting statements, saying that it was wrong to claim that broadband was being deployed in a “reasonable and timely” manner.

Earlier this year, the FCC was forced to revise a draft of its report which overstated the number of Americans with access to high-speed broadband. The data the agency uses to determine broadband deployment has come under scrutiny because the commission heavily relies on self-reported data from broadband providers. 

Policy Roundup:

The Coming “Privacy Troll” Problem. Congress is currently working on a federal privacy bill that will hopefully strengthen consumer privacy, but some policymakers are pushing for a provision that could open the floodgates to expensive, bad-faith lawsuits against startups.

Fight for an open Internet. Over 120 startups joined Engine last month 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 to Senate leadership, encouraging them to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. We need your help to make this happen! Join us by voicing you support for strong net neutrality protections, and also please share our letter with your startup networks. You can sign our letter here.

Wall Street investing less in startups. Private investments in six of the 10 best-funded U.S. tech startups to go public since 2015 have fallen from the peak levels they reached in funding rounds before their stock debuts, according to an analysis.

Engine opposes U.K. encryption proposal. Engine joined a coalition of 47 organizations, companies, and security experts in condemning a proposal from the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters that would allow intelligence or law enforcement officials to covertly join encrypted chats as “ghost” users.

CCPA harms the press. Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California News Publishers Association, wrote in an op-ed that the state’s California Consumer Privacy Act harms journalistic institutions by essentially treating media outlets the same as data brokers.

China considers using rare earths in trade war. Chinese newspapers warned this week that the country might use its rare earth metals to strike back at the United States, including potentially limiting their sale to U.S. companies, amidst the growing trade dispute between the two countries. Tech companies use rare earths in high-tech consumer electronics and other products.

Democrats attack Facebook over Pelosi video. House and Senate Democrats blasted Facebook over its refusal to remove a doctored video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) saying that Congress should put “guardrails in place” to prevent a “crisis of confidence” in content on social media platforms.