Startup News Digest 7/12/19

Big Story. Trump administration targets social media sites. The White House criticized digital platforms over allegations of political bias during a social media summit this week. President Donald Trump and conservative lawmakers and activists have lashed out at major tech platforms over claims that they silence right-wing voices and viewpoints. 

President Trump said during the summit that he was directing his administration to “explore all legislative and regulatory solutions to protect free speech and the free speech of all Americans,” adding that he planned to invite social media representatives to the White House next month. 

The meeting was held amidst a push by some conservative lawmakers to to do away with Section 230 protections for digital platforms in order to enforce government oversight of online speech. Earlier this week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said tech companies should have to “earn” the critical liability protections, adding that a new federal agency could be created to oversee the process.

In response to growing congressional interest in Section 230 protections, a coalition of civil society organizations, Internet law experts, and academics this week released a set of seven principles to help guide the ongoing conversation about amending Section 230 protections in order to prevent lasting damage to the Internet ecosystem.

Final Nuts and Bolts of Content Moderation event today. Join Engine and the Charles Koch Institute today at noon today for the final panel in our three-part series on Internet platforms and user-generated content. We’ll discuss content moderation practices across the Internet, including the steps that different platforms take to moderate and oversee user content. Learn more about the panel and RSVP here.   

Policy Roundup:

CASE Act threatens startup ecosystem. The Senate Judiciary Committee this week took up the CASE Act, legislation that would change copyright enforcement in the United States. The bill would open startups to new risks by incentivizing bad faith copyright infringement claims and creating traps for small businesses and their customers. 

Don’t expand the USMCA grievance list. The USMCA's digital trade chapter is poised to open the door to a new era of startup innovation. But as the USMCA approaches formal consideration in Congress, lawmakers should avoid picking the provision apart and work to swiftly pass the free trade agreement. 

France moves forward with digital tax. France’s Senate approved a three percent tax on the revenues of large tech companies, despite a warning from the Trump administration that the move “unfairly targets American companies.” France’s planned “digital tax” would affect approximately 30 tech companies, the majority of which are located within the United States. 

House, Senate panels plan tech hearings. The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is planning to hold a July 16th hearing with representatives from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google as part of the panel’s ongoing antitrust probe of the technology industry. The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is also planning to hold a July 16th hearing focused on allegations that search engines censor conservative voices. 

Concerns about Facebook’s Libra currency. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee that Facebook’s new digital currency project, Libra, could pose a systemic financial risk because of the company’s size. Powell’s remarks came after David Marcus, the head of Facebook's Libra project, wrote Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to say that the platform is "taking the time to do this right" after lawmakers called for Facebook to halt its cryptocurrency efforts. 

Defending startups from cyberthreats. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to help startups better defend themselves from cyberattacks by streamlining the small business community’s access to tools, services, and security protocols.  

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere. Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sioux Falls is a Midwestern city that demonstrates beautiful integration of their natural environment. But there is something else running through the city these days too -- entrepreneurial energy. Matt Paulson, founder of Startup Sioux Falls, is working hard to integrate resources for startups into one organization, capture that energy, and build out the Sioux Falls ecosystem.