i2Coalition Aug. 2022 Legislative Brief
Your brief update on important Internet policy issues.
The House and Senate are out of session until after the September 5 Labor Day holiday. Before leaving for the August recess, Senate Democrats utilized budget reconciliation procedures and achieved a key goal of the Biden Administration by passing on August 7 the Inflation Reduction Act. This landmark, $750 billion package covers taxation, climate, energy, and health care. Vice President Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, and the House passed the bill on August 12 by a vote of 220-207. President Biden is signing the bill into law on August 16. This victory added to a string of earlier successful bipartisan votes in Congress approving bills that President Biden signed into law to expand health care for veterans, to tighten gun safety, and to support U.S. technological competitiveness and national security against threats from China in areas of chip manufacturing and science research and development. Once Congress returns in September, it expects to be in session for a few short weeks before recessing again to campaign for the November midterm elections. Must-do items include passage of a federal budget continuing resolution before September 30, and extension of the FCC’s spectrum auction authority, which also expires at the end of September. As the midterm election campaigns accelerate this fall, more activity is expected from the House January 6 Select Committee. High-profile U.S. Department of Justice investigations into January 6 and around the reported removal of classified documents from the White House at the end of the Trump Administration are also underway, but details about them have not been made public.
TECH POLICY PRIORITIES
Section 230/Intermediary Liability. State legislatures have continued to be more active than Congress this year in attempts to pass bills to regulate content moderation by large social media platforms. Concerns and discussions about political bias and censorship by platforms and how to combat misinformation and disinformation online are expected to expand as the midterm campaign season unfolds after Labor Day.
Federal Privacy. It is unclear if this Congress will be able to pass a comprehensive consumer data privacy bill given the short legislative calendar remaining. Supporters of the House bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), are seeking a House floor vote and are urging the Senate to take up the legislation. On August 11, the FTC announced it had voted 3-2 to launch a long-anticipated and broad Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to explore rules to crack down on harmful commercial surveillance and lax data security. The FTC’s move has generated concern among some privacy stalwarts in Congress who stress that it is appropriate for Congress, not the FTC, to be the lead body setting policy baselines for consumer data privacy.
Copyright/IP. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s summer IP agenda has focused on proposed improvements to the patent system through legislation. The U.S Patent and Trademark Office, with its new leadership in place, is inviting public comments and examining some of the same issues in pending regulatory proceedings.
Antitrust/Competition. Supporters of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992/H.R. 3816) are expected to seek floor votes on the bills this fall. It is unclear if that will occur and whether it will happen before or after the midterm elections. A scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (S. 673) was held over until September.
Broadband. Bipartisan bills were introduced in the House and Senate to require the White House to establish a national broadband strategy. Federal legislation was also introduced to support coordinated infrastructure development, expansion, and efficiencies with respect to broadband, electric vehicles, and the electric grid. On August 15, the FCC released a report to Congress on the future of the Universal Service Fund, which recommends that Congress pass legislation to explicitly authorize the agency to tap industries beyond telecom to fund subsidies to keep low-income and rural populations connected. On August 11, the Department of Commerce announced that another $1 billion in funding would be made available for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, bringing the total available under that tribal funding opportunity announced in June 2021 to $1.98 billion. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has observed that tribal lands have been called the least connected places in America.
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