To add to the growing list of federal privacy frameworks introduced this year, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has re-introduced the bipartisan Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 (S. 1667).  Senator Klobuchar introduced the bill originally in 2018 and 2019, although it did not advance to committee in either instance.  Senators Kennedy (R-LA), Burr (R-NC), and Manchin (D-WV) have co-sponsored the bill.

Key provisions in this bill include:
Continue Reading New Privacy Bill Provides Opt-Out Rights and New Data Security Requirements

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33) reintroduced the Cyber Shield Act on March 24, 2021. The proposed legislation is not new to Congress; Sen. Markey and Rep. Lieu previously introduced the Cyber Shield Act in both 2017 and 2019. However, the bill never made it to a vote in either the House or the Senate.
Continue Reading “Cyber Shield Act” Calling for IoT Device Certification Reintroduced in Congress

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 February 4, 2021, the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a hearing entitled, “Safeguarding American Consumers: Fighting Scams and Fraud During the Pandemic.”  The hearing focused on the FTC’s ability to obtain equitable monetary relief under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act – an issue that is currently being considered by the Supreme Court in AMG Capital Management LLC v. Federal Trade Commission.

To gain a better understanding of the deceptive marketing campaigns seeking to exploit the ongoing public health crisis and the challenges the FTC faces in fighting fraud, the Subcommittee invited Bonnie Patten, Executive Director of TruthInAdvertising.org; Jessica Rich, former Bureau of Consumer Protection Director and Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown Law School; William E. Kovacic, former FTC Chairman and Global Competition Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School; and Traci Ponto, Spokane COPS Crime Victim Advocate at Spokane Community Oriented Policy Services.
Continue Reading Hearing on Consumer Protection During the Pandemic Focuses on FTC’s Equitable Monetary Authority

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

The Department of Justice has released a draft bill to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, joining the chorus of voices seeking to limit the statute’s liability protections (covered here, here, here, and here).  The DOJ’s draft bill incorporates recommendations from its June 2020 report analyzing Section 230, as well as President Trump’s Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship.  According to Attorney General William Barr, DOJ’s proposal “recalibrates Section 230 immunity,” aiming to “incentivize online platforms to better address criminal content on their services and to be more transparent and accountable when removing lawful speech.”
Continue Reading DOJ Proposes Legislation to Limit Section 230 Immunity

In the wake of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (“ECJ”) Schrems II decision invalidating the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”) but upholding the validity of standard contractual clauses (“SCCs”), the U.S. government has released a White Paper entitled “Information on U.S. Privacy Safeguards Relevant to SCCs and Other EU Legal Bases for EU-U.S. Data Transfers after Schrems II.”  The Schrems II ruling requires companies relying on SCCs “to verify, on a case-by-case basis,” whether the level of protections afforded by the SCCs are respected and observed in the recipient country.  According to the cover letter accompanying the White Paper, it “outlines the robust limits and safeguards in the United States pertaining to government access to data” as part of “an effort to assist organizations in assessing whether their transfers offer appropriate data protection in accordance with the ECJ’s ruling.”

The cover letter emphasizes that while the White Paper is intended to help companies make the case that they can transfer personal data from the EU to the United States in compliance with EU law, it does not “eliminate the urgent need for clarity from European authorities or the onerous compliance burdens generated by the Schrems II decision.”  It concludes by citing the importance of the “$7.1 trillion transatlantic economic relationship” and stating that “the Trump Administration is exploring all options at its disposal and remains committed to working with the European Commission to negotiate a solution that satisfies the ECJ’s requirements while protecting the interests of the United States.”
Continue Reading U.S. Government Issues White Paper on Privacy Safeguards Following Schrems II

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Merkley) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) recently introduced the National Biometric Information Privacy Act (NBIPA), which would require private entities to obtain consumers’ and employees’ written consent prior to collecting their biometric information and expand nationwide individuals’ access rights and rights to request additional information from businesses.  The bill also would grant a private right of action.  Unlike other proposals that focus on regulating the use and funding of biometric surveillance technology by government entities, the NBIPA regulates private entities’ use of biometrics.
Continue Reading Bill Restricting Companies’ Use of Biometrics and Expanding California’s Right To Know Nationwide Introduced in Senate

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill that would require tech companies to assist law enforcement in executing search warrants that seek encrypted data.  The bill would apply to law enforcement efforts to obtain data at rest as well as data in motion.  It would also apply to both criminal and national security legal process.  This proposal comes in the wake of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s December 2019 hearing on encryption and lawful access to data.  According to its sponsors, the purpose of the bill is to “end[] the use of ‘warrant-proof’ encrypted technology . . . to conceal illicit behavior.”

The bill has three main provisions:
Continue Reading Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act Introduced