Decoding Tech Policy for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Written by G.S. Hans

The range of technology policy issues at play for any company today can seem daunting. Copyright. Cybersecurity. Opt-ins. Data breaches. Intermediary liability. For startups and new entrants, the learning curve can be especially steep — and a challenge, given how many other pressing concerns young companies must address.

To help startups and entrepreneurs navigate the policy landscape and make responsible data decisions, CDT has created a suite of resources on the various laws and policy that may relate to their businesses. We lay out the important terms — from a range of governmental agencies to relevant legislation to buzzwords like biometrics and privacy by design — that startups may encounter as they develop products. We also have one pagers covering a number of laws governing data and technology: the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), and the Health Information Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). They give the general gist of the policy, what startups need to know about it, and how it might apply to their business.

Being aware of these terms and issues isn’t just a “nice to have” for startups: it can provide real dividends from a business development point of view. For users, a company that is proactive, informed, and clear about its practices (and its understanding of the policy issues at play) will be much more appealing than one that plays fast and loose with the rules. The hit to public reputation for companies that suffer data breaches or fail to protect user privacy can be damaging — or fatal. Moreover, any potential exit for a startup, whether acquisition or IPO, will require the company to have its house in order to satisfy due diligence. Strong practices around data management and user protection are a vital part of satisfying any review that takes places as part of an IPO or acquisition.

CDT has long worked to promote individual user rights while fostering an innovative environment for new products and technology. Startups are a vital part of that environment, and we hope that these resources help new companies learn the lay of the land.

We plan to develop future resources, and welcome your feedback at [email protected]

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