Drone Origin Security Enhancement Act

On Monday, the House passed H.R. 4753, the Drone Origin Security Enhancement Act. The bill prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from acquiring or operating foreign manufactured unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or UAS with certain parts manufactured overseas. Also on Monday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) proposed to make the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) under one Senate-confirmed Director, rather than five commissioners, reporting to the Associate Attorney General. Hawley’s proposal focuses on “Big Tech” oversight and would give the new entity authority to enforce rules requiring interoperability, data portability, and data minimization.

Rep. Jordan New Ranking Member of House Judiciary

House Republicans have named Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) the new ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. He succeeds Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who is stepping aside as he pursues a bid for the Senate. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) will replace Jordan as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

FY21 Budget Release

President Trump released his FY21 budget proposal on Monday, proposing sweeping cuts to federal spending. Several House and Senate committees are holding hearings on the FY21 budget this week as Congress prepares to begin the appropriations process. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) said this week that he will not hold a hearing on the President’s budget request, calling it an “exercise” to which Congress pays little attention. See below for additional details on the budget proposal as it pertains to emerging technologies.

Executive Order on Strengthening Resilience through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services

On Wednesday, the President signed an Executive Order on Strengthening Resilience through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services (PNT) directing the federal government to develop guidance to mitigate the risks of disruption to critical infrastructure that rely on PNT services. The order responds to concerns about U.S. adversaries hacking global navigation satellite systems. President Trump and First Lady Melanie Trump also hosted President Lenin Moreno Garcés and First Lady Rocio González de Moreno of the Republic of Ecuador to the White House.

DOJ Workshop on Venture Capital and Antitrust

The Department of Justice hosted a workshop on Wednesday at Stanford University on venture capital and antitrust. In opening remarks, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim called the event “part of our on-going effort at the Department of Justice to understand the competitive conditions under which online platforms operate.” He also observed that venture capitalist and antitrust enforcers “share similar values” when it comes to dynamic competition, investment, and disruption.

Ethical Use of Facial Recognition Act

On Wednesday, Senators Merkley and Booker introduced the Ethical Use of Facial Recognition Act, which would temporarily prohibit the federal government from using facial recognition software. The bill would also bar state and local governments from using federal funds to implement such technology. After 18 months, a commission established by the bill would provide recommendations to congress on how the government should use and regulate facial recognition software.

Data Protection Act

On Thursday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released a bill that would overhaul the way the government regulates privacy. The bill, titled the Data Protection Act, would create a new Data Protection Agency, where consumers could file data malpractice complaints against companies. The agency would be responsible for investigating complaints and inflicting penalties if wrongdoing is found.

Equal Rights Amendment

The House adopted a resolution to remove the deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have offered a Senate companion resolution. Supporters have renewed their efforts since Virginia ratified the ERA earlier this year.

Revised Regulations for CCPA

Last Friday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released revised regulations regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in response to comments received on the initial proposal. The public may comment on the modified regulations until February 25.

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