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Subcommittee Announces Hearing on Broadband in Rural America

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled, “The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. The hearing will focus on the Federal Communications Commission’s order to improve the quality and expand availability of rural broadband. The subcommittee will also discuss opportunities and investments to support carriers in rural America, efforts to prevent overbuilding among federal broadband programs, and the next steps to close the digital divide.

Update: Pre-Approval Requirements Announced for Federal Wire Act Prosecutions

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 10:13am
Featured Expert Contributor, White Collar Crime & Corporate Compliance Gregory A. Brower, a Shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP in Las Vegas, NV and Washington, DC, with William E. Moschella, a Shareholder in the firm’s Washington, DC office. We recently posted about the Department of Justice’s new take on what the federal Wire Act …

Continue reading Update: Pre-Approval Requirements Announced for Federal Wire Act Prosecutions

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Subcommittee Announces Hearing on China Challenges for U.S. Commerce

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, chairman of the Subcommittee on Security, will convene a hearing titled, “China: Challenges for U.S. Commerce,” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 7, 2019. The subcommittee hearing will examine the security implications of China's harmful practices in the marketplace, including issues of manufacturing competitiveness, intellectual property challenges, data localization requirements, standards-setting, and cybersecurity threats.

U.S. Government Should Champion Foreign-Commerce Authority in Washington Export Terminal Legal Dispute

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 9:33am
Lighthouse Resources, Inc. v. Inslee, a federal lawsuit of great national consequence pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Western District of Washington (here and here are our past posts on it), has reached a critical point after a year of pre-trial developments. In its January 3, 2018 complaint, Lighthouse Resources (LHR) and …

Continue reading U.S. Government Should Champion Foreign-Commerce Authority in Washington Export Terminal Legal Dispute

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Committee Announces Hearing on American Maritime Industry

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “The State of the American Maritime Industry,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The hearing will focus on the current state of the domestic maritime industry in anticipation of the FY20 budget request and discuss priorities for the Coast Guard and MARAD reauthorization bills.

Wicker Convenes Hearing to Examine Consumer Data Privacy Issues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today convened the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for a hearing titled, “Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States.” The hearing focused on what Congress should do to address risks to consumers and implement data privacy protections for all Americans. 

Excerpt from Chairman Wicker’s opening statement, as delivered, below:

….

We live during an exciting time of rapid innovation and technological change. Internet-connected devices and services are virtually everywhere – in our homes, cars, grocery stores, and right here in our pockets. 

The increase in Internet-connected devices and services means that more consumer data than ever before is flowing through the economy.

The economic and societal benefits generated by consumer data are undeniable. From this data, meaningful insights are gleaned about the needs, preferences, and demands of consumers and businesses alike. These insights spur innovation, help target investment, and create opportunities.

The material benefits of data include increased productivity and efficiency, reduced costs, greater efficiency, greater convenience, and access to customized goods and services that enhance our safety, security, and overall quality of life.

While the benefits of consumer data are immense, so too are the risks.

Consumer data in the digital economy has become a target for cyber-criminals and actors that exploit data for nefarious purposes.

This problem is exacerbated by the failure of some companies to protect consumer data from misuse and unwanted collection and processing.

These issues threaten to undermine consumers’ trust in the Internet marketplace, diminishing consumer engagement in the online ecosystem.

Consumer trust in the Internet marketplace is essential. It is a driving force behind the ingenuity and success of American technological advancement and prosperity. 

Congress needs to develop a uniquely American data privacy framework that provides consumers with more transparency, choice, and control over their data. This must be done in a manner that provides for continued investment and innovation, and with the flexibility for U.S. businesses to compete domestically and abroad.

It is clear that we need a strong, national privacy law that provides baseline data protections, applies equally to business entities – both online and offline – and is enforced by the nation’s top privacy enforcement authority, the Federal Trade Commission.

It is important to note that a national framework does not mean a weaker framework than those that have already passed in the U.S. and overseas or being contemplated in the various states.

Instead it means a preemptive framework that provides consumers with certainty that they will have the same set of robust data protections no matter where they are in the United States.

 

Ranking Member Maria Cantwell Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for holding this important hearing and welcome to the witnesses today as we discuss moving forward on developing a federal data privacy framework. 

Last year, we learned that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained unauthorized access to personal information of 87 million Facebook users, which it used for profiling purposes. That same year, Uber announced that hackers had successfully gained access to the personal information of 57 million riders and drivers. The year before, in 2017, hackers successfully stole the personal information of 143 million consumers from Equifax because the credit reporting giant failed to install a simple software patch. And just last week, UConn Health announced that an unauthorized 3rd party accessed employee email accounts, potentially exposing personal and medical information of approximately 326,000 people. 

These are not isolated incidents, or even one-offs. They are the latest in a barrage in consumer privacy and security violations, many of which are entirely preventable. And consumers are at the receiving end of this reckless practice. So, I hope that Congress does grapple with privacy data legislation. 

While Congress has been successful in the past in addressing certain types of personal information, such as health or financial data or children’s information, consumers continue to see the challenges that they face with corporate practices that allow for collection, storage, analyzing, and monetizing their personal information. In fact, just two years ago, Congress voted to overturn the FCC privacy rule that would have protected online users from internet service providers, but had yet to take effect. 

So, while we have gone backwards in some ways, there are others who are moving forward. In May of 2018, the European’s General Data Privacy Regulations went into effect, providing the EU and its citizens with an array of new protections from certain types of corporate data practices. And in addition, the state of California has recently passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, which also provided California’s citizens with new rights and protections. This law goes into effect 2020. 

So, together the implementation of these two pieces of legislative policy, GDPR and CCPA, have brought new insights to the congressional efforts to pass meaningful privacy and data security laws. What is clear to me is we cannot pass a weaker federal law at the expense of states. 

So, Mr. Chairman, I am certainly open to exploring the possibility of meaningful, comprehensive federal privacy legislation. I want to work with you and all the members of this committee, many of which have already introduced various pieces of privacy legislation, for thoughtful discussion about how we come to a resolution on these issues. 

I don’t think anyone should be under the illusion, though, that this is an easy task. The information age is still unfolding. The many challenges that we will face as new ways that information is shared cannot just simply be decided today. There are hard issues about how this economy will evolve. But, I know that we can have a thoughtful exploration of the multifaceted issues regarding federal policy that go beyond the stalemate that we have had for several years. If we are going to deliver meaningful privacy and security protection for the deserving American public, then we must think about what this paradigm really looks like in this debate. I believe that just notice and consent are no longer enough. I don’t think that transparency is the only solution. 

So, at today’s hearing, I hope we kick off a very substantive discussion to explore how we go about changing this mindset that treats personal information as such a commodity for profit, and think about it as we have in tackling a series of hearings here, Mr. Chairman, on the various issues related to privacy and security. I know that there are members on both sides of the aisle that are very committed to this cause, and I hope we can make progress on this. 

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Supporting America’s Startups: Review of SBA Entrepreneurial Development Programs

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 11:00am
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Supporting America’s Startups: Review of SBA Entrepreneurial Development Programs.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The hearing will examine the United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Entrepreneurial Development (ED) programs and offer Members of the Committee the opportunity to review the major technical assistance programs, along with the offices at SBA charged with overseeing the programs. Members will hear directly from SBA’s resource partners.

Hearing Notice

Witnesses 

Mr. Charles Rowe
President & CEO
America’s Small Business Development Centers
Arlington, VA
Testimony 

Ms. Corinne Hodges
CEO
Association of Women’s Business Centers
Washington, DC
Testimony

Mr. Ken Yancey
CEO
SCORE Association
Herndon, VA
Testimony 

Ms. Cherylynn Sagester
Veterans Business Outreach Center Program Director
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA
Testimony

Witness List
 








Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. This hearing will examine what Congress should do to address risks to consumers and implement data privacy protections for all Americans. The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission, which is the primary enforcement agency for consumer privacy and information security protections. 

“In an age of rapid innovation in technology, consumers need transparency in how their data is collected and used,” said Wicker. “It is this committee’s responsibility and obligation to develop a federal privacy standard to protect consumers without stifling innovation, investment, or competition. As we continue to examine this critically important issue, I hope this first hearing will offer valuable insights that will help set the stage for meaningful bipartisan legislation.”

Witnesses:

To Be Announced

Hearing Details: 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
10:00 a.m.
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

This hearing will take place in the Hart Senate Office Building 216. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

<p>Good morning to you all.&nbsp; Today

Good morning to you all.  Today we hold our first hearing this Congress to discuss policy principles for a federal consumer data privacy framework. I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend, Ranking Member Cantwell.
 
We live during an exciting time of rapid innovation and technological change.  Internet-connected devices and services are virtually everywhere – in our homes, cars, grocery stores, and right here in our pockets.
 
The increase in Internet-connected devices and services means that more consumer data than ever before is flowing through the economy.
 
The economic and societal benefits generated by the consumer data are undeniable. From this data, meaningful insights are gleaned about the needs, preferences, and demands of consumers and businesses alike.  These insights spur innovation, help target investment, and create opportunities.
 
The material benefits of data include increased productivity and efficiency, reduced costs, greater efficiency, greater convenience, and access to customized goods and services that enhance our safety, security, and overall quality of life.
 
While the benefits of consumer data are immense, so too are the risks.
 
Consumer data in the digital economy has become a target for cyber-criminals and actors that exploit data for nefarious purposes.
 
This problem is exacerbated by the failure of some companies to protect consumer data from misuse and unwanted collection and processing.
 
These issues threaten to undermine consumers’ trust in the Internet marketplace, diminishing consumer engagement in the online ecosystem.
 
Consumer trust in the Internet marketplace is essential.  It is a driving force behind the ingenuity and success of American technological advancement and prosperity.  
 
Congress needs to develop a uniquely American data privacy framework that provides consumers with more transparency, choice, and control over their data.  This must be done in a manner that provides for continued investment and innovation, and with the flexibility for U.S. businesses to compete domestically and abroad.
 
It is clear to me that we need a strong, national privacy law that provides baseline data protections, applies equally to business entities – both online and offline – and is enforced by the nation’s top privacy enforcement authority, the Federal Trade Commission.
 
It is important to note that a national framework does not mean a weaker framework than those that have already passed in the U.S. and overseas or being contemplated in the various states.
 
Instead it means a preemptive framework that provides consumers with certainty that they will have the same set of robust data protections no matter where they are in the United States.
 
We welcome our distinguished witness panel:
 
Mr. Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association
Mr. Brian Dodge, Chief Operating Officer of the Retail Industry Leaders Association
Ms. Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA – The Software Alliance
Mr. Jon Leibowitz, Co-Chairman of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition
Mr. Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the [Interactive] Advertising Bureau
Dr. Woodrow Hartzog, Professor of Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University School of Law and Khoury College of Computer Sciences

I hope our witnesses will address the critical issues that this committee will need to consider in developing a federal data privacy law, including:
 
How best to protect consumers’ personal data from being used in ways they did not consent to when collected by the stores or websites they visit.
 
How to ensure that consumers are presented with simplified notices about what information an organization collects about them, instead of lengthy and confusing privacy notices or terms of use that are often written in legalese and bury an organization’s data collection activities.
 
How to enhance the FTC’s authority and resources in a reasonable way to police privacy violations and take action against bad actors anywhere in the ecosystem.
 
How to create a framework that promotes innovation and values the significant contributions of entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses to the U.S. economy;
 
How to provide consumers with certainty about their rights to their data – including the right to access, correct, delete, and port their data, while maintaining the integrity of business operations and avoiding unnecessary disruptions to the internet marketplace; and
 
How to ensure a United States data privacy law is interoperable with international laws to reduce compliance burdens on U.S. companies with global operations.
 
I look forward to a thoughtful discussion on these issues and I want to welcome all of our witnesses and thank them for testifying this mornin

Connecting America: Examining Intermodal Connections Across Our Surface Transportation Network

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled, “Connecting America: Examining Intermodal Connections Across Our Surface Transportation Network,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. The hearing will focus on the current multimodal transportation market and infrastructure, stakeholder needs, and how Congress can support multimodal freight movement as part of a surface transportation reauthorization.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Chuck Baker, President, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
  • Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Deputy Executive Director, Administration and Operations, Port of Long Beach, representing the Intermodal Association of North America
  • Ms. Donna Lemm, Executive Vice President, IMC Companies, representing the Agriculture Transportation Coalition
  • Mr. Joseph C. Szabo, Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, representing the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors

Hearing Details: 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety

This hearing will take place in the Dirksen Senate Office Building 562. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Commerce Leaders Seek Answers on Google Nest Undisclosed Microphones

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, together with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today sent a letter to Mr. Sundar Pichai, the chief executive officer of Google seeking information about recent news that Google had not disclosed the presence of a microphone in its Nest Secure home security device. 

Excerpt from the letter to Google CEO:

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the ability of large technology companies to collect and use personal data about them without their consent.  Therefore, it is critically important that companies like Google be completely transparent with consumers, and provide full disclosure of all technical specifications of their products at the point of sale.  Last September, Google’s chief privacy officer testified at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Senate Commerce Committee) that “transparency is a core value of our approach to serving users.”  That is why Google’s failure to disclose a microphone within its Nest Secure product raises serious questions about its commitment to consumer transparency and disclosure.” 

In the letter, Sens. Wicker, Thune, and Moran question Mr. Pichai on details related to when Google became aware of the undisclosed microphones, any third party using the Nest Secure microphone for any unauthorized purpose, the steps taken to inform purchasers, and Google’s process for developing technical specifications for its products.

Read the full letter to Google CEO here. The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over consumer privacy and technology.

Children’s Crusade for Judicially Managed Climate Regulation Stalls in Federal Court

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 9:05am
One act in the nationwide climate-litigation sideshow recently got the proverbial hook from a Pennsylvania-based federal judge. From chambers that are fittingly just around the corner from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Judge Paul S. Diamond refused to “make the Executive a subsidiary of the Judiciary,” which is exactly what the plaintiffs in Clean Air Council, …

Continue reading Children’s Crusade for Judicially Managed Climate Regulation Stalls in Federal Court

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Love Regulation or Hate It, the National Debt Is Not Your Friend

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 2:36pm
By the end of the reign of Trajan, in what would later be called AD 117, the impending decline of the Roman Empire could be seen by anyone who looked closely at the coins. In the days of Nero, a half-century before, more than nine parts in ten of a denarius was silver. When Trajan …

Continue reading Love Regulation or Hate It, the National Debt Is Not Your Friend

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A Material Change: FCA Defendants Confront Altered Pleading Standard in Ninth Circuit after Rose and Campie

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor, False Claims Act Stephen A. Wood, Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. In 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016), a watershed in False Claims Act jurisprudence.  The Petitioner asked the Court to decide whether the …

Continue reading A Material Change: FCA Defendants Confront Altered Pleading Standard in Ninth Circuit after Rose and Campie

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Subcommittee Announces Hearing on Surface Transportation Networks

WASHINGTON –  U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled, “Connecting America: Examining Intermodal Connections Across Our Surface Transportation Network,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. The hearing will focus on the current multimodal transportation market and infrastructure, stakeholder needs, and how Congress can support multimodal freight movement as part of a surface transportation reauthorization.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Chuck Baker, President, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
  • Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Deputy Executive Director, Administration and Operations, Port of Long Beach, representing the Intermodal Association of North America
  • Ms. Donna Lemm, Executive Vice President, IMC Companies, representing the Agriculture Transportation Coalition
  • Mr. Joseph C. Szabo, Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, representing the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety

This hearing will take place in the Dirksen Senate Office Building 562. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Justice Department Revisits the Wire Act but Stays Enforcement, for Now

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor, White Collar Crime & Corporate Compliance Gregory A. Brower, a Shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP in Las Vegas, NV and Washington, DC, with William E. Moschella, a Shareholder in the firm’s Washington, DC office. On January 14, 2019, the Department of Justice quietly released a new Office of Legal Counsel …

Continue reading Justice Department Revisits the Wire Act but Stays Enforcement, for Now

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Will a SCOTUS Grant in Berkheimer v. HP Finally Get Alice Out of Wonderland?

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 1:51pm
Featured Expert Contributor, Intellectual Property—Patents Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP The future of patent-infringement challenges under 35 U.S.C. § 101 may be in the hands of the Solicitor General of the United States. The defendant in Berkheimer v. Hewlett Packard petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari and overturn a U.S. Court of Appeals …

Continue reading Will a SCOTUS Grant in Berkheimer v. HP Finally Get Alice Out of Wonderland?

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Cantwell Comments on New Rules to Bolster Oil Train Spill Response

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) release of new rules requiring railroads to develop comprehensive oil spill response plans.  

“The rules announced today by the Department of Transportation represent a small step forward, but we still have much bigger issues that have not been addressed.”

Senator Cantwell has been a constant voice in increasing tanker car safety and reducing volatility of crude oil that passes through communities in Washington state and throughout the country. The rule announced today comes as a result of provisions Cantwell passed through Congress in 2015 to require railroads to develop comprehensive oil spill response plans. She has also pressed the U.S. Department of Transportation to set standards for the volatility of crude oil to protect communities along rail lines.

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Wicker Convenes Hearing on America’s Infrastructure Needs

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today convened the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for its hearing titled, “America’s Infrastructure Needs: Keeping Pace with a Growing Economy.” The hearing focused on the current state of infrastructure and opportunities for improvement, including public and private funding, support for multimodal connectivity, and rural development.

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