IoT Update: Congress Passes IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020

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.

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FCC Plans to Advance Proposal to Change Device Marketing Rules

In what is expected to be one of the last meetings under the leadership of current Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Chairman Ajit Pai, the agency will consider adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that proposes to modify certain aspects of the FCC’s device authorization rules.  Specifically, the NPRM will propose to allow the importation and conditional marketing and sales of radiofrequency (“RF”) devices that have not yet been approved under the FCC’s rules.  If the rule is ultimately changed, that means companies marketing RF devices for the first time will have the same flexibility enjoyed by some car companies and many other manufacturers to offer a product to the public before it actually can be shipped for use.

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EDPB adopts recommendations on international data transfers following Schrems II decision

On 11 November 2020, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) issued two draft recommendations relating to the rules on how organizations may lawfully transfer personal data from the EU to countries outside the EU (“third countries”).  These draft recommendations, which are non-final and open for public consultation until 30 November 2020, follow the EU Court of Justice (“CJEU”) decision in Case C-311/18 (“Schrems II”).  (For a more in-depth summary of the CJEU decision, please see our blog post here and our audiocast here. The EDPB also published on 24 July 2020 FAQs on the Schrems II decision here).

The two recommendations adopted by the EDPB are:

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NIST Solicits Comments on Four Principles of Explainable Artificial Intelligence and Other Developments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) has published the first draft of the Four Principles of Explainable Artificial Intelligence (NISTIR 8312), a white paper that seeks to define the principles that capture the fundamental properties of explainable AI systems.  AI Initiative Co-Chair Lee Tiedrich, Sam Choi, and James Yoon discuss the draft, along with other legislative developments relating to NIST, in The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and LawFor more information, please visit our AI Toolkit.

Covington Artificial Intelligence Update: USPTO Releases Report on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy

On October 6, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a report titled Public Views on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy. The report summarizes the nearly 200 comments received in response to patent-related questions regarding AI set forth in a request for comments (RFC) issued by the USPTO in August 2019 and non-patent IP questions set forth in an October 2019 RFC.

This post focuses on Part I of the report, which summarizes the comments received in response to the first RFC. Part II of the report pertains to the second RFC.

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FCC Announces Section 230 Rulemaking

FCC Chairman Pai announced today that the FCC will move forward with a rulemaking to clarify the meaning of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).  To date, Section 230 generally has been interpreted to mean that social media companies, ISPs, and other “online intermediaries” have not been subject to liability for their users’ actions.

On July 27, the Trump Administration—acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration—submitted a Petition for Rulemaking on Section 230, and Chairman Pai announced on August 3 that the FCC would seek public comment on the petition.  That petition asked the FCC to adopt rules to “clarify” the circumstances under which the liability shield of Section 230 applies.  Citing the FCC General Counsel’s reported position that the Commission has the legal authority to interpret Section 230, Chairman Pai today stated that a forthcoming agency rulemaking will strive to “clarify its meaning.”

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FCC Reevaluating Certain TCPA Compliance Exemptions

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a proposal to review and potentially revise a number of existing exemptions that the FCC has adopted with respect to certain Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requirements.  The FCC’s review could end up narrowing or eliminating some of these longstanding exemptions, imposing consent requirements or other obligations that today are not required for certain kinds of calls and texts.

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Order Responding to Net Neutrality Court Decision Circulated for Consideration at FCC’s October Meeting

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) circulated a new Net Neutrality Order for consideration at its October meeting.  This draft Order on Remand does not mark a change in the FCC’s Net Neutrality policy; rather, it responds to several issues raised by the D.C. Circuit in Mozilla v. FCC, which reviewed the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

The draft Order on Remand addresses the points raised by the D.C. Circuit in Mozilla but otherwise affirms the outcome of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order.  That Order rolled back Obama-era Net Neutrality regulations and largely deregulated broadband Internet service provider practices.

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AI, IoT, and CAV Legislative Update: EU Spotlight (Third Quarter 2020)

In this edition of our regular roundup on legislative initiatives related to artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, the Internet of Things (IoT), and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), we focus on key developments in the European Union (EU).

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FCC Formalizes Foreign Investment Reviews; More National Security Actions Likely to Follow

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted an order formalizing the referral and review process associated with “Team Telecom”—the group of national security and law enforcement agencies responsible for assessing foreign investment in U.S. telecommunications, submarine cable licensees, and broadcast licensees. The order adopts rules and procedures that will govern what has long been an informal process at the agency, both in connection with the issuance of such licenses and with respect to transfers of control.

The FCC’s action is consistent with the agency’s increased focus on, and involvement in, questions around national security and foreign investment in the telecommunications and media sectors. This attention to national security at the FCC is likely to continue regardless of the outcome of the election in November, given that both Republicans and Democrats at the agency have supported the agency’s heightened role in national security matters under its jurisdiction.

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