Startup News Digest 8/16/19

The Big Story: FCC's 5G push hits judicial snag. The FCC was dealt a setback last week in its effort to speed up the implementation of 5G technologies across the United States.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last Friday that the FCC erred in its attempt to exempt 5G cell sites from historical and environmental reviews. The judges did not address other aspects of the agency’s decision last year to override many municipal rules in an effort to accelerate 5G development. Despite the ruling, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a proposal this week that would maintain current limits on radio frequency exposure after agency officials concluded that 5G technology does not pose any added health risks.  

Congressional Startup Day gets underway. Congressional Startup Day, a nationwide celebration of startup ecosystems across the country, is officially next Wednesday, August 21st. But startups and lawmakers have already joined in on the Congressional Startup Day festivities, with meetings taking place this week and throughout the next two weeks.

During Congressional Startup Day, Engine and our partners help lawmakers meet with startups in their districts and states to learn more about how government can work with startups to support innovation and entrepreneurship. WayUp, an online job platform for college students and graduates based in New York City, had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) earlier this week. Liz Wessel, the cofounder and CEO of WayUp, described in a blog post what the visit was like for her and the company’s employees.  

Policy Roundup:

FCC expands funding for rural broadband. The Federal Communications Commission approved $121 million in funding to further expand rural broadband access. The funds will be distributed over the next decade to provide Internet access to thousands of homes and businesses across 16 states. The agency also doled out an additional $16 million to build out broadband access for more than 8,000 homes and businesses in rural areas of New York.

Fight over online content continues. The leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed Jim Watkins, the owner of fringe online messaging platform 8chan, to appear before the panel. Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a joint statement that they “have questions on what is being done to counter this trend” of violent and racist online content “so we can be sure it is being properly addressed.”

Companies testify against French digital tax. Representatives from Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies are scheduled to testify on Monday during a U.S. government hearing on France’s digital services tax. The hearing, held by the Office of United States Trade Representative, comes after the French Senate last month approved a 3 percent tariff on tech companies with more than 25 million euros (approximately $27.7 million) in French revenue.

White House delays new China tariffs. The Trump administration announced that it will delay new tariffs on Chinese imports of cellphones, laptop computers, video game consoles, and other products until Dec. 15. The announcement, which pushes back the Sept. 1 deadline that President Donald Trump had previously threatened, means that affected tech companies will be largely shielded from the import tax during the height of the holiday shopping season. 

U.K. rules would fine platforms for toxic videos. The United Kingdom announced new rules, set to be introduced next year, which would fine tech companies up to 5 percent of their revenue if they fail to remove toxic online videos. Under the rules, platforms found in violation could also face restrictions and the suspension of their services for failing to remove content.  

GOP rolls out Startup Caucus. Republicans this week launched Startup Caucus, an innovation fund for digital startups that can help boost the GOP’s online infrastructure.

IRS warns crypto investors. Over 10,000 investors in cryptocurrency are now receiving form letters from the Internal Revenue Service notifying them that past federal tax returns aren't in sync with the information they obtained from digital currency exchanges.  

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Charlotte, North CarolinaCharlotte has grown into a premier startup hub in recent years, helped in large part by a ballooning number of startup-focused organizations and co-working spaces in the Queen City. To learn more about Charlotte’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, we spoke with Christine Nicodemus, COO and co-founder of SkoolAide, a startup that works to advance student learning and behavioral growth through goal-setting software.