Congress Advances New Data Privacy Proposal

Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released a discussion draft of the bipartisan, bicameral American Privacy Rights Act. This is a significant step forward in advancing federal data privacy legislation. The proposal establishes clear data privacy rights and protections, and preempts the existing patchwork of state data privacy laws. Here are links to resources and coverage:

Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith posted the following statement on LinkedIn: “Consumers and business across the United States have long deserved clear, strong, and comprehensive privacy protections. The privacy bill unveiled by Chairs Cantwell and McMorris Rodgers is a good deal. Their willingness to work across party lines on an issue of common cause has led to a bill that would give all consumers in the U.S. robust rights and protections. It would also provide clarity by establishing a national standard. We applaud Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers for their bipartisan leadership, support their efforts to pass a comprehensive federal privacy law, and look forward to working with the committees as the bill moves forward.”

We will keep VFI members informed as this bill progresses and highlight the best opportunities to engage. Thank you for reading.

This Week in Washington 

  • The Washington Post: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the nearly 23 million households receiving free or heavily discounted high-speed internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program will see reduced subsidy payments, in many cases cut by about half. ACP recipients may face higher broadband service bills in May, and especially in June when the program will have completely run out of money unless Congress acts. The impacts to customers will vary based on their ISP, and many carriers have not yet finalized plans for customers who were receiving subsidies.
  • Route Fifty: The FCC also announced a change in the required connection speed to describe internet service as “broadband” for the first time in nearly a decade, in conjunction with an annual assessment by the agency that found it is not deploying high-speed broadband fast enough. The FCC found that as of December 2022, 24 million Americans lack fixed broadband service, including 28% of those in rural areas and more than 23% living on Tribal lands.
  • CNN: ISPs must now provide a standardized disclosure of what customers can expect to pay, what their typical download speeds will be, and other information about their policies in a standardized, nutrition label-like format. 
  • Reuters: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s agenda for the Senate’s post-recess sprint as the 2024 elections campaign heats up includes a promise to make progress on TikTok-related legislation
  • The Hill: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act, a bill that would require companies to publicly disclose any copyrighted materials they use to train generative artificial intelligence models by submitting a notice to the Register of Copyrights with a “detailed summary of any copyrighted works used” and the URL for any publicly available material.
  • CyberScoop: Congress has not yet agreed on how to overhaul and extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the many controversial surveillance provisions it contains.
  • Roll Call: The FCC will vote later this month on a draft order that would classify “broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service,” meaning internet service will be treated like landline telephone service and the agency could reinstate net neutrality principles that would prevent internet service providers from discriminating by speeding up or slowing traffic to certain websites. Any attempt to restore net neutrality will face legal tests and could be ruled back by a new federal administration.

Article Summary

  • The Washington Post: Hundreds of online content creators joined activists and journalists in sending an open letter to Meta asking the company to reverse its decision to limit the reach of accounts posting “political content” on its apps Threads and Instagram. Meta announced in February that it no longer would algorithmically recommend content about politics and social issues on the two social media platforms unless users opt-in to see it. The letter asks that rather than changing the default settings of all accounts to restrict political content, Meta should give users the opportunity to opt in to such restrictions.
  • Colorado Sun: As ACP funding subsidizing broadband connections across America is set to run out, Colorado officials are working to require ISPs setting up new fiber-based broadband projects in mostly rural areas with assistance from state and federal grants to offer low-cost options equivalent to ACP, aiming to cap costs at $50 per month for eligible residents. 
  • Business Insider: Microsoft released new research based on a survey of 1,300 mostly North American and European users of Copilot, finding that one of the biggest benefits of using the AI tool was that it made it possible for workers to spend less time in meetings.
  • Reuters: South Korea will invest $7 billion in AI and more than $1 billion in semiconductor manufacturers by 2027, as the country tries to keep pace with the United States, China and Japan, all of which are giving massive policy support to strengthen domestic semiconductor supply chains.
  • CNN: Japan’s government is directly asking US executives to invest in the country’s emerging AI, semiconductor, and clean energy sectors. During a lunch with American CEOs as part of his visit to the US, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan wants American collaboration in “critical and emerging technology” made assurances about mutual investment.

Featured Podcast

New York Times

  • The Daily
    Last week, millions of Americans had the opportunity to see a rare total solar eclipse. Fred Espenak, a retired astrophysicist known as Mr. Eclipse, was so blown away by an eclipse he saw as a teenager that he dedicated his life to traveling the world and seeing as many as he could.

    Mr. Espenak discusses the eclipses that have punctuated and defined the most important moments in his life, and explains why these celestial phenomena are such a wonder to experience. (The Eclipse Chaser – April 8, 2024)