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Jayne Ponder is an associate in the firm's Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group. Jayne’s practice focuses on a broad range of privacy, data security, and technology issues. She provides ongoing privacy and data protection counsel to companies, including on topics related to privacy policies and data practices, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and cyber and data security incident response and preparedness.

A number of legislative proposals to amend Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (“Section 230”) have already been introduced in the new Congress.  Section 230 provides immunity to an owner or user of an “interactive computer service” — generally understood to encompass internet platforms and websites — from liability for content posted by a third party.

On February 8, 2021, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms Act (“SAFE TECH Act”), cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).  The bill would narrow the scope of immunity that has been applied to online platforms.  Specifically, the SAFE TECH Act would amend Section 230 in the following ways:
Continue Reading SAFE TECH Act Would Limit Scope and Redesign Framework of Section 230 Immunity

On Friday, December 4, 2020, President Trump signed the bipartisan Internet of Things (“IoT”) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 into law.  The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act empowers the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) to create cybersecurity standards for internet-connected devices purchased and used by federal agencies.  For more information on the law, please

The bipartisan Internet of Things (“IoT”) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 (S. 734, H.R. 1668) has passed the House and the Senate and is headed to the President’s desk for signature.  The bill was sponsored in the House by Representatives Hurd (R-TX) and Kelly (D-IL), and in the Senate by Senators Warner (D-VA) and Gardner (R-CO).  President Trump is expected to sign the measure into law.

According to Senator Warner (D-VA), the bill would “harness the purchasing power of the federal government and incentivize companies to finally secure the [internet-connected] devices they create and sell.”

The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act will require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) to develop minimum cybersecurity standards for internet-connected devices purchased or used by the federal government.  The bill sets forth the following requirements:
Continue Reading IoT Update: Congress Passes IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020

On September 22, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) hosted “Data to Go,” a virtual workshop on data portability. The workshop convened experts from civil society, academia, and industry to discuss the potential risks as well as consumer and competition benefits of data portability, as well as issues and best practices related to its implementation in legislative and industry-led initiatives. The discussions emphasized five key themes regarding data portability efforts in the U.S. and globally.
Continue Reading Five Key Themes from the FTC’s Data Portability Workshop

On April 6, 2020, Tapplock, Inc., a Canadian maker of internet-connected smart locks, entered into a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to resolve allegations that the company deceived consumers by falsely claiming that it had implemented reasonable steps to secure user data and that its locks were “unbreakable.”  The FTC alleged that these representations amounted to deceptive conduct under Section 5 of the FTC Act.  In its press release accompanying the settlement, the FTC provided guidance for IoT companies regarding the design and implementation of privacy and security measures for “smart” devices, as discussed further below in this post.
Continue Reading IoT Update: FTC Settles with Smart Lock Manufacturer and Provides Guidance for IoT Companies

Last week, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Protecting Personal Health Data Act (S. 1842), which would provide new privacy and security rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) for technologies that collect personal health data, such as wearable fitness trackers, social-media sites focused on health data or conditions, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing services, among other technologies. Specifically, the legislation would direct the HHS Secretary to issue regulations relating to the privacy and security of health-related consumer devices, services, applications, and software. These new regulations will also cover a new category of personal health data that is otherwise not protected health information under HIPAA.

Continue Reading Legislation Seeks to Regulate Privacy and Security of Wearables and Genetic Testing Kits

As policymakers weigh the implications of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and the Internet of Things (“IoT”), members of Congress have introduced a handful of measures focusing on Government support for and adoption of these emerging technologies.

In May, Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Developing and

This month, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report recommending that Congress consider enacting a federal internet privacy law in the United States.  The 56-page independent report was requested by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on data privacy on February 26, during which it plans to discuss the GAO’s findings.  The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a similar hearing on February 27th.

According to the GAO, “Congress should consider developing comprehensive legislation on Internet privacy that would enhance consumer protections and provide flexibility to address a rapidly evolving Internet environment.”  The GAO stressed the importance of striking an appropriate balance between the benefits of data collection and addressing consumer concerns.

Continue Reading GAO Report Calls for Federal Privacy Law

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced that 2018 was an all-time record year for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) enforcement activity.   Enforcement actions in 2018 resulted in the assessment of  $28.7 million in civil money penalties.  Enforcement activity focused primarily on breaches of electronic protected