Right to Be Forgotten, Techstars Iowa, data center training
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Business Record innovationIOWA Weekly | March 5, 2020
Iowa senator introduces 'Right to Be Forgotten' bill
By Kate Hayden | Staff Writer
A new bill introduced by Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn, R-Altoona, would require the "removal of internet content upon request" under the title "The Right to Be Forgotten" Act, a phrase associated with the "right to erasure" that gives European Union citizens the power to demand certain data about them be deleted from company servers.

The Iowa bill, SF 2351, would allow an individual to request any internet search engine to remove "information related to an individual that is inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate or excessive."

"Right to Erasure" hit the global airwaves during the 2018 implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation by the European Union. Under the law, EU citizens have a limited right to request of any company the erasure of relevant data held by the individual within 30 days. (The EU's Information Commissioner’s Office has a complete breakdown online of when the right to erasure applies to an individual case, and when the right does not apply, such as "archiving purposes in the public interest" or in legal claims or obligations.)

The proposed Iowa law differs by allowing an individual to make specific requests to an internet search engine, which indexes millions of pages that may contain original posts (such as social media) or posts that contain copies (social media posts containing other post screenshots, blogs, news reports, memes and other internet media). The bill requires the search engine to complete the removal within 30 days after the initial request.

"What this bill aims to do is say if it’s not part of the public discourse and it’s your information, and it’s not a public record, then you as an individual should have the ability to basically reclaim your life," Nunn told the Business Record.

The bill was partially inspired by the viral reaction to Iowan Carson King’s million-dollar fundraiser for a children’s hospital in September 2019, and the equally viral debate after inappropriate tweets King had made as a teenager were discovered by a Des Moines Register reporter (whose own inappropriate tweets were discovered by other Twitter users).

By targeting search engines, Nunn said the bill will address posts in which a user’s original post was copied and distributed beyond the social media account they have control over.

"Even if you delete something online in a blog post … a search engine continues to pull that up time and time again," Nunn said. "There is a responsibility for the online search engine to make sure that they’ve got a filter system that matches what you’ve done -- if you’ve deleted it online but it’s still sitting out there in a ghost server somewhere and the search engine is pulling that, then I would say the search engine has a responsibility."

Similar laws have been proposed in New York and New Mexico, and both have been pulled from consideration, said Alanah Mitchell, associate professor of information systems at Drake University.

"In order for a bill like this to be successful, it would have to be extremely clear about authorship, it would have to be clear about the data you’re trying to remove and why," Alannah said. "That’s probably why those previous bills haven’t made it that far."

Part of the problem in drafting legislation is whether internet search engines should be considered publishers who prioritize information for a user’s view through the algorithm.

"These laws are treating search engines as publishers, which doesn’t exactly feel right," said Matthew Mitchell (no relation to Alanah Mitchell), associate professor of international business and strategy at Drake University.

The Iowa bill defines eligible content for removal as "inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate or excessive" information related to the individual, or information that has had a "significant lapse in time from its first publication." The bill excludes criminal convictions, litigation related to a violent crime or "a matter that is of significant current public interest."

"As soon as something goes viral, then it’s in the public domain and you have intense public interest," Matthew said. "I’m not sure that once that information is screen-grabbed and then repost, [that] you have control of it at that point."

Nunn is seeking feedback from Iowa tech companies over the bill.

"This is an opening dialogue. I do want to hear back from tech companies, and this is where we start," Nunn said. "If we can’t get anything done at the federal level, I think the states are a really good place to start this. Iowa is a small enough place that you can have a very outsized impact on the national dialogue."  

"We’re experimenting … and that’s going to resonate with the innovators," Matthew said. "It’s not going to be perfect. We’ve got to put it out there and see how it applies to different cultural context. We’ve learned a ton from GDPR and how to apply it to California, and that’s setting the bellwether for the rest of the country. This is just another brick in that wall of understanding how we do this in the U.S. context."

"Without [doing] anything, you abrogate your leadership responsibility as a legislator to these companies, and that’s not a great thing either," he added.

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InfraLytiks joins for Catalyst Space Accelerator
Des Moines analytics startup InfraLytiks is participating in the Catalyst Space Accelerator based in Colorado Springs, Colo., one of eight companies to join the accelerator that began Jan. 6. The Air Force Research Lab -- Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Space Accelerator is a three-month program that dedicated its fifth cohort to data fusion for space applications. Cohort founders are introduced to representatives of the Department of Defense and "commercial sherpas" to make connections with potential customers and partners. InfraLytiks is a data analytics and automation company that uses machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence to deliver automation projects. The company works with data from satellites, fixed-wing aircraft, drones and other sources to analyze HD, 3D, thermal and LiDAR data.

Techstars Iowa hires TJ Salyars as program manager
Techstars Iowa, a Techstars network accelerator supported by Grinnell College, has hired TJ Salyars as program manager. Salyars joins managing director Kerty Levy (view Levy’s Closer Look profile from Feb. 7); previously, Salyars was the director of business operations at Ames startup Smart Ag, and served in operations management roles at Covera Health and Spreemo Health in New York City. Startup applications to Techstars Iowa are available online and open until May 10, and the program’s first year will begin on Sept. 8.

TAI announces 2020 Iowa High School Tech Summit
The Technology Association of Iowa will host the 2020 Iowa High School Tech Summit on Oct. 7 in Cedar Rapids, TAI announced this week. The summit will introduce high school students to technology companies and careers across the state. Eddie Etsey, information technology/chief technology officer for the University of Iowa Athletics Department, will emcee the event, and speakers will be announced this summer. Registration is available at

DMACC opens VR, AR-enabled data center training lab
Des Moines Area Community College is opening a new training lab featuring virtual reality and augmented reality technologies at the West DMACC Campus Microsoft Datacenter Academy. Microsoft is providing $30,000 in funding support for the first phase of the new Virtual Learning Lab’s production. The lab will include about 200 server racks and will incorporate high-security and biometric controls that real-world data centers use, including retinal scanners and key-card. Students will practice in a "game" mode by using virtual reality headsets and a virtual tablet to read work-order tickets and navigate a virtual reality data center. The Virtual Learning Lab will be used by students in the DMACC Network Technology and Telecommunications program.

Gross-Wen Technologies co-founder named 2020 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year
Gross-Wen Technologies Inc. co-founder and President Martin Gross is the winner of the 2020 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year award, presented by America’s SBDC Iowa. The award honors an Iowa entrepreneur who has been in business a minimum of three years and has been significantly assisted by the Iowa Small Business Development Center. Gross and co-founder Zhiyou Wen established Gross-Wen in 2014 to develop their algae-growing technology into a sustainable wastewater treatment system for communities.

W.D.M. City Council questions business incubator’s $1 per year lease
West Des Moines residents told the City Council Monday night they are concerned that taxpayer money is funding the operation of a city-owned building for what residents believe is a private purpose, reports KCCI. Gravitate Coworking subleases the building for $1 per year from the West Des Moines Business Incubator, and has offered coworking space for the last two years. Some city leaders say the incubator’s current use as a coworking space violates the lease. 


These stories originally appeared in the Business Record's e-newsletters and weekly publication.
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'Have I Been Pwned?' founder shares the process of a sale

As of now, founder Troy Hunt is still the sole owner of his cybersecurity service Have I Been Pwned?, although that wasn't entirely his plan. Hunt blogged about the entire experience investigating a sale, narrowing down potential buyers and getting deep into the weeds with a potential buyer before both sides called off the sale. Hunt's reflection is pretty fascinating: "What I've explained in this post will never adequately illustrate just how stressful this process was," he wrote.

IN OTHER NEWS: A fintech company in Seattle raised minimum salaries to $70,000 in 2015. Here’s how the company is doing now (BBC); The Catholic Church proposes AI regulations that ‘protect people’ (THE VERGE); Yemen’s Civil War shows the dangers of crypto (COINDESK).
Tools of Service
By Kate Hayden | Staff Writer

The Des Moines Area Religious Council may be most known for its Food Pantry Network, and this year the food pantry saw a stark jump. DMARC had its busiest month of all time in November, when it served nearly 23,000 unique individuals in its food pantry network, capping off a steady rise in pantry use since 2012. Through the DMARC Data Dashboard, staff members watched the rise in real time.

"It has just been going up and up and up. We keep hoping we’re going to see some kind of plateau in total services, sort of like a natural ceiling in how many individuals we can actually serve in a given calendar month. Thus far, we just haven’t had it," said Daniel Beck, DMARC data analyst.

After development led by Beck and DMARC volunteer Tom Fischer, DMARC’s Data Dashboard has been tracking client visits to 14 food pantries and 30 mobile food pantry locations per month across the metro since 2012. Thirty-six percent of the individuals DMARC served in 2019 were under age 18.

"One of the reasons why this data visualization dashboard is so impactful is that it’s trying to tear down those stereotypes. A lot of people would say, ‘Well, most people who are hungry, they must be homeless,’" said Leslie Garman, director of development and outreach at DMARC. "That’s absolutely not the truth, and this is one of the tools that we can use to show them."

Nonprofits such as DMARC are finding new ways to reach supporters and staff in service. In five counties -- Boone, Greene, Marshall, Story and Tama -- Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support Services (ACCESS) found a way to connect distant staff who need to stay in close contact.

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March 6: Conversation with an Entrepreneur
Join the Iowa Center for Economic Success for an intimate conversation on the First Friday of the month as it hears the authentic and courageous stories of entrepreneurship from small business owners in our community. Take with you words of wisdom, new connections and a renewed sense of excitement for your own business endeavors. Sessions are free and open to the public with networking from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
WHERE: Iowa Center for Economic Success, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
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March 9-13: ciLive! The Art of Imagination
ciLive!, which stands for Celebrate! Innovation Live, is an annual, weeklong event that gives students and community members the opportunity to interact with people -- some famous, all inspired -- who have dreamed, created, and accomplished. Generous sponsors make the event free and open to the public. In 2020, the event will mark its 11th year.
WHERE: DMACC West Campus
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