Last Friday, October 1, the Protecting DNA Privacy Act (HB 833), a new genetic privacy law, went into effect in the state of Florida establishing four new crimes related to the unlawful use of another person’s DNA.  While the criminal penalties in HB 833 are notable, Florida is not alone in its focus on increased genetic privacy protections.  A growing number of states, including Utah, Arizona, and California, have begun developing a net of genetic privacy protections to fill gaps in federal and other state legislation, often focused on the privacy practices of direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) genetic testing companies.  While some processing of genetic information is covered by federal law, the existing patchwork of federal genetic privacy protections do not clearly cover all forms of genetic testing, including DTC genetic tests.
Continue Reading Newly Effective Florida Law Imposing Criminal Sanctions Adds to Developing Nationwide Patchwork of State Genetic Privacy Laws

On September 29, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy.”  The hearing centered on strengthening consumer privacy rights, including by increasing the FTC’s resources and creating a comprehensive federal privacy law.

To explore these issues, the Committee invited David Vladeck, Professor and Faculty Director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law and former Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection; Morgan Reed, President of The App Association; Maureen Ohlhausen, Partner and Section Chair (Antitrust & Competition Law) at Baker Botts and former Acting Chairman of the FTC; and Ashkan Soltani, Independent Researcher and Technologist and former Chief Technologist of the FTC.
Continue Reading Consumer Privacy Hearing Focuses on Expanding FTC Resources, Creating Federal Privacy Law

To add to the growing number of bills that would amend or revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, last month Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Health Misinformation Act of 2021 (S.2448).  Senator Ben Lujan (D-NM) cosponsored the bill.

The bill would amend Section 230 to revoke the Act’s liability shield

Yesterday, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced an updated version of the “Protecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act” (Kids PRIVCY Act), which would make broad changes the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  Rep. Castor introduced a similar bill in early 2020, but it stalled alongside other proposals to overhaul the federal children’s privacy law last year.
Continue Reading Rep. Castor Reintroduces Bill to Rewrite the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

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