Startup News Digest 6/07/19

Big Story. Tech giants under antitrust scrutiny. The Trump administration is reportedly launching a major antitrust probe to determine whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have misused their market power. Under a series of arrangements, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have reportedly divided up oversight of the four companies. The DOJ will now have authority over any potential antitrust investigations into Google and Apple, while the FTC will have oversight of Facebook and Amazon.

Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee also launched a bipartisan antitrust investigation to determine whether tech giants engaged in anti-competitive behavior to give themselves an unfair advantage over rivals. As part of its investigation — Congress’ first major antitrust probe of a specific sector in decades —the House Judiciary antitrust committee announced plans to hold a June 11th hearing to discuss how online platforms affect media outlets.

A number of Democratic presidential hopefuls have also begun discussing their views on breaking up big tech companies after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced a plan to break up tech giants. 

Policy Roundup:

The Nuts and Bolts of Content Moderation. Please join Engine and the Charles Koch Institute on Friday, June 14th at noon for the first panel in our three-part series on Internet platforms and user-generated content. We'll discuss how and why various Internet companies of all sizes moderate their users' content to the benefit of the platform and its users. Learn more and RSVP here.

Last chance to support net neutrality. This is your final opportunity to join our Senate letter in support of the Save the Internet Act, which would reinstate the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality protections. Thanks in part to startup voices like you, the House in April overwhelmingly passed its version of the bill. Now we need you to stand up for an open Internet once more by adding your startup to the list of organizations urging Senate leadership to act on this important bill. You can sign our letter here.

Don’t touch Section 101. During a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property hearing, Alex Moss—staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation—described how Section 101 of the patent law protects the public by limiting what can be patented in order to protect technological progress. The subcommittee is considering radical changes to Section 101 that could lead to an increase in patent trolling and associated costs.

GDPR used to silence reporters. Journalist Bernhard Warner describes how the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation allowed Romania to claim that reporters violated the bloc’s strict data-protection law in publishing a scoop about corruption within the country’s government.

SEC targets Kik over ICO. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing messaging app Kik for not registering the offers or sales it received from a 2017 initial coin offering that raised over $100 million for the company’s kin token.

Wyden concerned about Section 230 threats. During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)--who co-authored Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act--expressed concerns that changes to the provision could grant ideology-driven lawmakers the power to police political content, and cautioned his fellow policymakers against taking actions that could infringe on free speech.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Portland, Maine. The Pine Tree State might be best known for its lobsters and coastal shorelines, but the state’s entrepreneurs and lawmakers are working diligently to expand opportunities for startups. One of the groups working to build out these support networks is Startup Maine, an organization which has hosted a yearly conference since 2014 that brings together leaders from across the state.