Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill that would require tech companies to assist law enforcement in executing search warrants that seek encrypted data.  The bill would apply to law enforcement efforts to obtain data at rest as well as data in motion.  It would also apply to both criminal and national security legal process.  This proposal comes in the wake of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s December 2019 hearing on encryption and lawful access to data.  According to its sponsors, the purpose of the bill is to “end[] the use of ‘warrant-proof’ encrypted technology . . . to conceal illicit behavior.”
Continue Reading Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act Introduced

Federal policymakers continued to focus on artificial intelligence (“AI”) and the Internet of Things (“IoT”) in the third quarter of 2019, including by introducing substantive bills that would regulate the use of such technology and by supporting bills aimed at further study of how such technology may impact different sectors. In our third AI & IoT Quarterly Legislative Update, we detail the notable legislative events from this quarter on AI, IoT, cybersecurity as it relates to AI and IoT, and connected and autonomous vehicles (“CAVs”).

Continue Reading AI and IoT Legislative Developments: Third Quarter 2019

Federal and state policymakers introduced a range of new measures on artificial intelligence (“AI”) and the Internet of Things (“IoT”) in the first quarter of 2019. In our initial AI & IoT Quarterly Legislative Update, we detail the notable legislative events from this quarter on AI, IoT, cybersecurity as it relates to AI and IoT, and connected and autonomous vehicles (“CAVs”). Unlike prior years, in which federal lawmakers largely called for studies of these new technologies and supported investments in them, policymakers are increasingly introducing substantive proposals—particularly on AI and cybersecurity, and at the state level.
Continue Reading AI and IoT Legislative Developments: First Quarter 2019

On March 11, 2019, a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Cory Gardner introduced the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019. The Act seeks “[t]o leverage Federal Government procurement power to encourage increased cybersecurity for Internet of Things devices.” In other words, this bill aims to shore up cybersecurity requirements for IoT devices purchased and used by the federal government, with the aim of affecting cybersecurity on IoT devices more broadly.

Continue Reading Senate Reintroduces IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act

On February 27, 2019, Covington hosted its first webinar in a series on connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”).  During the webinar, which is available here, Covington’s regulatory and public policy experts covered the current state of play in U.S. law and regulations relating to CAVs.  In particular, Covington’s experts focused on relevant developments in: (1) federal public policy; (2) federal regulatory agencies; (3) state public policy; (4) autonomous aviation; and (5) national security.

Highlights from each of these areas are presented below.


Continue Reading IoT Update: Covington Hosts First Webinar on Connected and Automated Vehicles

New Jersey has enacted restrictions on the ability of employers to access employees’ social media accounts, becoming the twelfth state to enact such legislation. More than 30 state legislatures have considered bills on the topic in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New Restrictions in New Jersey

New Jersey’s new law, signed by Governor Chris Christie on August 29 and effective December 1, generally prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that employees or prospective employees “provide or disclose any user name or password, or in any way provide the employer access to, a personal account through an electronic communications device.” Employers also may not require individuals to waive the law’s protections or retaliate against individuals who refuse prohibited requests or file complaints with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development about violations of the law. An earlier version of the law, passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Christie, also would have allowed aggrieved individuals to file civil suits for injunctions, damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Continue Reading New Jersey Restricts Employer Access to Employees’ Personal Online Accounts

A group of senators announced on Wednesday that they would renew their push for federal legislation to limit the ability of federal authorities to compel journalists to reveal information about or obtained from confidential sources, after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would tighten its own standards for when to seek such information.

The bill, the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, is an updated version of a reporters’ shield bill that was considered in 2009. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) reintroduced the bill in mid-May of this year, co-sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The Obama administration asked Schumer to reintroduce the bill after the U.S. Justice Department disclosed that it had obtained call records for more than 20 telephone extensions of Associated Press journalists.

The bill generally would prevent federal authorities from compelling journalists to identify confidential sources or reveal information obtained under a promise of confidentiality, unless a court determines that the government has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources of the information and the government’s need for the information outweighs the public interest in the free flow of information.
Continue Reading Senators, Justice Department Voice Support for Expanding Journalists’ Protections

A bill has been introduced in Congress that would permit prevailing defendants in patent infringement suits to recover litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.

The Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (“SHIELD”) Act was introduced on February 27 by Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).  The bill would provide for the award of full litigation costs to a prevailing party asserting invalidity or noninfringement in a patent action.  In order to recover fees, the party asserting invalidity or noninfringement would first have to obtain a judgment that the party alleging infringement was not (1) the original inventor, (2) exploiting the patent, or (3) a university or technology transfer organization.
Continue Reading SHIELD Act Seeks to Shift Litigation Costs in Patent Suits Brought by Non-Practicing Entities