Startup News Digest 6/14/19

Big story. One-year anniversary of net neutrality repeal. This Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of the net neutrality rules going into effect, and advocates of the protections marked the occasion with a new push to reverse the FCC’s decision.

Ever since the agency voted in 2017 to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order that enshrined the protections, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has emphasized that the rollback would promote competition, save smaller ISPs money, and would give consumers more broadband options. But in the year since the repeal has taken effect, there has been little evidence that ISPs have saved money from the rollback, or that repealing net neutrality has provided consumers with any expanded broadband options.

Despite the House in April overwhelmingly passing legislation — known as the Save the Internet Act — to reverse the FCC's repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order, Senate leadership has refused to hold a vote on the bill. Senate supporters of the legislation this week called for a unanimous consent request to move the legislation forward, but the request was blocked.

Strong net neutrality protections are particularly important to startups because the rules ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field for companies of all sizes. That's why more than 160 small and mid-size companies joined our letter this week calling on the Senate to quickly hold a vote on the Save the Internet Act.

The Nuts and Bolts of Content Moderation. Come join Engine and the Charles Koch Institute today 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.

Policy Roundup:

Federal lawmakers, states join antitrust discussion. The House Judiciary Committee moved forward with its antitrust investigation of tech giants this week by holding a hearing with representatives from news outlets to discuss concerns about online platforms' market power over the media. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel also announced plans to hold a July 23rd hearing on the enforcement of antitrust laws. Multiple state attorneys general are also preparing their own antitrust investigations of the tech industry, with at least a dozen states reportedly involved in the discussions.

Trump likes EU’s approach to tech giants. President Donald Trump told CNBC that the United States could benefit from European Union-style investigations and lawsuits targeting large tech companies, saying that “We should be doing what they’re doing” in order for the U.S. to reap similar cash windfalls from antitrust fines.

Lawmaker floats Section 230 rollback to combat deepfakes. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) warned during a committee hearing that so-called deepfake videos could have a disastrous impact on the 2020 presidential election and floated the prospect of revising liability protections given to platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to force sites to take down sophisticated digital forgeries.

FCC plans to require more accurate broadband data. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the Senate Commerce Committee that the agency plans to circulate an order at its August meeting that would require broadband providers to report "where they actually offer service below the census block level” in order to improve the accuracy of the agency’s broadband mapping data.

CASE Act harms the little guy. Although supporters of the CASE Act say the bill provides small copyright holders with a streamlined process for addressing online copyright infringement claims, Re:Create Coalition Executive Director Joshua Lamel explains how the legislation actually benefits large media companies at the expense of the consumers and artists it purportedly protects.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Providence, Rhode Island. Female entrepreneurs can see opportunities and solutions that men might not notice. Sarah Fletcher, Co-Founder of Stylaquin, knows how men and women tend to shop. And she is merging the convenience of digital browsing with the enjoyment of paging through a catalog to create a tool that appeals to different shopping styles.