i2Coalition August 2023 Legislative Brief
Your brief update on important Internet policy issues
The Senate returns to work in Washington, D.C., on September 6, and the House will be back in session on September 12. This schedule leaves only a few weeks for Congress to pass legislation to keep the federal government funded and operating past September 30 when the fiscal year ends. This fall Congress will work on other major legislation, including the FY 2024 appropriations bills, the Farm Bill, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, and a final version of the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). So far the approaching U.S. Presidential election cycle is shaping up to be highly contentious and potentially unprecedented. As of mid-August, former President and current frontrunner Republican candidate Donald Trump has been criminally indicted four times based on his alleged conduct before and after the 2020 Presidential election, and will have a series of federal and state court proceedings to attend in 2024 as he campaigns. Meanwhile, some senior House Republican leaders reportedly seek to move forward this fall with an impeachment inquiry into President Biden as he runs for re-election as the Democratic candidate.
TECH POLICY PRIORITIES
Section 230/Intermediary Liability/Content Moderation. The Senate Judiciary Committee may hold another Section 230 hearing in the fall. While additional bills may be offered, to date bipartisan, bicameral consensus on how to reform Section 230 has not emerged. The rapidly approaching U.S. Presidential election year may again spotlight concern among some conservative Republicans about alleged political bias and censorship in content moderation practices by the largest social media platforms. Democrat constituencies may raise alarms about the proliferation of and failure to remove election misinformation and disinformation on those same major platforms.
Federal Privacy. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) reportedly deems a high priority the scheduling of Senate floor votes on the children’s online privacy and safety bills which advanced out of the Commerce Committee just before the August recess. Chair Cantwell has also signaled some interest in examining consumer data privacy and security issues more broadly in the fall. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), is expected to release the text of a comprehensive federal consumer data privacy and security bill, a successor to the bipartisan America Data Privacy and Protection Act passed by the full Committee in the prior Congress with strong bipartisan support.
Copyright/IP. Policymakers and legislators are continuing to watch closely the legal arguments and outcomes in IP litigation involving AI-generated content. On August 18, a federal district court judge upheld the position of the Copyright Office and ruled that art generated by artificial intelligence (AI) tools cannot be copyrighted under current law. The judge said the U.S. Copyright Office had acted properly in denying a copyright to a work of art created by an AI tool after the scientist behind the tool sought to protect the artwork.
Antitrust/Competition. The US Justice Department is reportedly considering filing an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary Ticketmaster by the end of the year. The suit would allege that the company is abusing its power in the live music industry. The new merger guidelines proposed by the FTC and DOJ have generated some pushback from the business community, but the FTC Chair Lina Khan and DOJ Antitrust Division chief Jonathan Kanter believe those concerns are overstated and they have been publicly defending the proposals. Public comments on the guidelines are being accepted through September 18 unless an extension of time is granted.
Broadband. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published draft rules on August 22 outlining which materials must be U.S.-made and which can be purchased from overseas when states begin building out their broadband networks using federal funds. FCC Chair Rosenworcel is urging Congress to move swiftly this fall to reauthorize the FCC’s spectrum auction authority which lapsed last March. When the Senate returns in September, Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) plans to schedule a Senate floor vote for the confirmation of FCC nominee Anna Gomez who was selected by President Biden to fill the long-vacant, open Democrat Commissioner seat.
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