Your brief update on important Internet policy issues
|Two major parts of President Biden’s domestic legislative agenda – the Build Back Better bill and voting rights reform – failed to advance in the U.S. Congress in January. While these issues remain important, near-term attention in the Senate abruptly shifted towards Biden filling a Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement on January 27. Several major threats loom over the current policy environment, including the evolving Russia-Ukraine military crisis, rising inflation and supply chain problems, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Congress also must work on FY 2022 spending before the February 18 deadline when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government will expire.
Given this backdrop, here is a brief outline of the issues you should know about in tech policy:
TECH POLICY PRIORITIES
Section 230/Intermediary Liability.
Increasing transparency and accountability regarding the use of algorithms by the largest social media platforms continues to be a key theme in Section 230 reform discussions. Bipartisan agreement on a legislative path forward for Section 230 reform has not yet been achieved. Improving online protection for children and teens draws significant bipartisan support, and continued debate and focused legislation addressing this area are expected.
Federal Privacy. Bipartisan discussions on comprehensive federal consumer data privacy and security have not yet advanced in either the House or Senate. To date, U.S.-EU negotiators have not reached an agreement on a replacement for the Privacy Shield for cross border data flows.
Copyright/IP. Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC) is continuing a series of virtual roundtable discussions with stakeholders about possible legislation to target large-scale commercial online piracy. The Copyright Office announced that beginning on February 22, 2022, it will conduct a series of consultations with stakeholders about the role of technology and technical measures in addressing Internet piracy.
Antitrust/Competition. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a markup session in January approving S. 2992, the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” which would prevent self-preferencing of content and services by the largest technology companies. In February the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to mark up S. 2710, the “Open App Markets Act,” designed to promote competition within the Google and Apple app stores. In the House, prospects are unclear for floor action on any of the tech-related antitrust bills passed last year by the House Judiciary Committee. On February 2, the Senate Commerce Committee will consider the nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to be FTC Commissioner.
Broadband. The new NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson will begin leading the implementation of the broadband provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The NTIA has requested public comments due in early February on the major broadband programs created by the Act. The FCC has launched rulemaking proceedings for the Affordable Connectivity Program. On February 2, the Senate Commerce Committee will consider the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be an FCC Commissioner.
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