Emerging Technologies Washington Update

April 18, 2019

Pardon Our Dust

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This Week: Trump announces 5G strategy, Senator Markey unveils Privacy Bill of Rights, DOJ to hold workshop on Competition in Television and Digital Advertising, FAA proposes deregulatory overhaul of commercial space regulations.

Week in Review

The House and Senate are in a two-week recess, set to return to Washington the week of April 29. In the meantime, a congressional delegation visited Argentina and Brazil this week for bilateral discussions on issues of mutual interest. House Minority Leader McCarthy (R-CA), House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Thornberry (R-TX), House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Rogers (R-AL), as well as Senator Scott (R-SC), were among those who made the trip. Separately, Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal (D-MA) led a delegation to London for meetings with U.K. leaders to discuss issues ranging from Brexit to Northern Ireland and NATO.

On the heels of last week’s House Democratic policy retreat, Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) said in an interview with Recode that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should be reexamined, suggesting that it is not out of the question that it may be done away with altogether. “It is a gift to them and I don’t think that they are treating it with the respect that they should…I do think that for the privilege of 230, there has to be a bigger sense of responsibility…and it is not out of the question that it could be removed,” she said.

Before leaving Washington, Senators Blackburn (R-TN) and Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Internet Exchange Act, which aims to improve access to the internet, especially in rural communities. Specifically, the bill authorizes the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to make matching grants to establish or expand internet exchanges in areas in which none or few exist.

The President kicked off the week at a roundtable on the economy and tax in Burnsville, Minnesota. On Tuesday, he vetoed a joint resolution aimed at ending US support for Saudi-led forces engaged in Yemen’s civil war. Returning the measure to Congress, the President called the resolution “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.” It is unlikely that Congress will be able to override the veto; the Senate adopted the measure 54-46, short of the two-thirds required.

This morning, the Attorney General Bill Barr held a press conference alongside outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein several hours before releasing a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress and the public.

Looking Ahead

Both the House and the Senate are in recess and will return to Washington the week of April 29. At that time, the Senate will take up William Cooper’s nomination to be General Counsel of the Department of Energy.

Next Tuesday, the California Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee will hold a hearing on a number of bills to amend the California Privacy and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), including bills that would change the definitions of personal information and publicly available information, among other key components of the nation’s most sweeping state consumer privacy law.

Trump Announces 5G Strategy

Last Friday, the President held a press conference alongside Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to announced that the administration would pursue a “private sector-driven and private sector-led” approach to deploy 5G in the United States. The announcement put the President at odds with influential voices, such as his 2020 campaign manager, who support a more government-driven approach. At the same time, Pai announced that the FCC will hold its next 5G auction on December 10, during which carriers will be able to bid on 3,400 MHz of new spectrum in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands to “promote the development of 5G, the Internet of Things, and other advanced-spectrum based services.”

In response, Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel criticized the administration for its “interventions on 5G” to date, “from imposing tariffs on 5G equipment to alienating allies on 5G security to falling behind the rest of the world on critical mid-band spectrum.” Congressional Republicans rallied behind the President’s message, however. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Walden (R-OR) echoed, “we do not need a big government role over the networks; we need massive private investment working with the federal government to win the race to 5G.”

Senator Markey Unveils Privacy Bill of Rights

Last Friday, Senator Markey (D-MA) released the text of his Privacy Bill of Rights Act, a comprehensive federal privacy framework that provides consumers with greater authority over the use and storage of personal data. Separate from the ongoing work of a bipartisan group within the Senate Commerce Committee, Markey’s bill grants considerable authority to state attorneys general and individual consumers while reinforcing the FTC’s oversight authorities. “It is increasingly clear that a true 21st century comprehensive privacy bill must do more than simply enshrine notice and consent standards,” Senator Markey stated in a press release. Notably, the bill contains the following provisions:

  • Requires companies to gain opt-in consent from consumers before engaging in data collection practices
  • Grants consumers the right to deletion, withdrawal, and portability of data
  • Provides consumers a private right of action and prohibits pre-dispute arbitration
  • Outlines specific parameters for de-identification of personal information
  • Establishes a centralized FTC website to inform consumers of their privacy rights

Several consumer groups commended the Privacy Bill of Rights Act for empowering consumers to exercise greater control over personal information. It remains unclear whether Markey’s colleagues as well as industry members will embrace the legislation with similar enthusiasm as lawmakers and the private sector alike continue to put forth their own proposals.

DOJ to Hold Workshop on Competition in Television and Digital Advertising

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to convene May 2-3 a workshop to explore industry dynamics in media advertising and the implications for antitrust enforcement and policy. The workshop is slated to cover different types of television and online advertising, and will highlight, among other developments in the industry, the role of online and mobile advertising networks.

Representing the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, Assistant Attorney General Makan will give opening remarks. The opening remarks will be followed by a series of panels featuring testimony from academics and high-level executives from leading companies, including buyers and sellers of advertising inventory. Panel discussions will address (1) television advertising; (2) internet and mobile advertising; (3) the competitive dynamics in media advertising; and (4) trends and predictions for advertising generally. The agency is inviting public comments from interested stakeholders through June 15, 2019.

FAA Proposes Deregulatory Overhaul of Commercial Space Regulations

On Monday, the FAA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to revise the commercial space regulations. The proposal is in response to President Trump’s May 2018 Space Policy Directive-2, “Streamlining Regulations on Commercial Space,” which charged the FAA with creating a single license for all types of commercial space flight operations and establishing performance-based requirements in place of prescriptive rules. The NPRM also incorporates the recommendations of the Streamlined Launch and Reentry Requirements Aviation Rulemaking Committee. The single license will apply to all launch and reentry vehicles, expendable and reusable, including vehicles with reusable components. Operators will be given leeway in using a system safety approach and in using an FAA-accepted means of compliance or proposing an alternate approach that maintains an equivalent level of safety. Comments are due in the docket (FAA-2019-0229) no later than June 14, 2019.