Congress Returns

Congress returned to Washington this week following a two-week recess and Monday’s federal holiday. Lawmakers are mourning the loss of House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who passed away this morning. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) becomes Acting Committee Chair. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also announced that the House Democratic drug pricing legislation considered this week in three committees of jurisdiction will be named for Cummings.

Joint Hearing on Section 230

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Communications and Technology and Consumer Protection and Commerce convened a joint hearing focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (see below for details). Elsewhere, the New Democrat Coalition, which counts more than 100 House Democrats as members, announced this week that is endorsing H.R. 2013, Rep. Suzan DelBene’s Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act. The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish requirements for companies that collect and otherwise use sensitive personal information, including a requirement that they obtain consumer opt-in consent for usage of such data. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary’s tech task force, helmed by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), convened another closed meeting yesterday for a discussion focused on data privacy.

Digital Service Tax

On Tuesday, the President again vetoed a resolution to terminate the national emergency he declared to send additional resources to the southern border; there was not enough support in Congress to override the veto earlier this year. Trump hosted Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the White House on Wednesday and in a joint press conference, said that the two leaders did not discuss if or how Italy plans to move forward with a digital service tax. The United States argues that such taxes, including the one enacted earlier this year in France, disproportionately impact American technology companies. The President said Wednesday that “if anybody’s going to tax those companies, it should be the U.S.A.,” rather than the European Union or individual nations.

FTC Establishes Technology Enforcement Division

Last Friday, President Trump announced that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan will step down. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joe Simons also said that Bureau of Competition Director Bruce Hoffman will leave the agency in November and that he will appoint Deputy Director Ian Conner to succeed Hoffman. The FTC also announced that effective October 1, its Technology Task Force has become a permanent division in the Bureau of Competition now known as the Technology Enforcement Division.

Remote ID of Drones

The FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) meets today as the FAA and industry wait for the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finish reviewing a notice of proposed rulemaking for remote identification (ID) of drones. At the last DAC meeting, industry was tasked with making recommendations to encourage early equipage of remote ID technology before the rulemaking is complete. Today, the DAC received three new taskings related to facility maps, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight challenges, and unmanned traffic management (UTM).

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.