All in Internet of Things
On Tuesday, the FTC kicks off a two-day hearing to help it reevaluate its approach to consumer privacy. At the same time, the push for federal privacy legislation is moving forward in 2019, and one common theme from the bills that have been introduced is a greater role for the FTC. But, despite these developments, the FTC so far has been relatively conflicted about seeking wide-ranging power from Congress to set privacy rules across the country -- a reluctance that reflects the agency’s history, and in particular its ill-fated history with attempting to regulate children’s advertising.
The transition to 5G wireless technology has the attention of the 116th Congress. This is not new, as Congress has been promoting infrastructure and spectrum changes to support deployment. Stakeholders across the globe may be interested in recent developments, including new legislative proposals looking at security aspects.
On March 13, the FTC announced that it will be holding a workshop on repair restrictions – ways in which manufacturers might limit repairs of devices by consumers and third-party repair shops. The agency is seeking empirical research and data on topics like the risks associated with repair by third parties and impact of any restrictions on prices. Device manufacturers should pay close attention and evaluate whether certain restrictions can be beneficial for device security and consumer privacy throughout the lifecycle of the device, as the FTC’s workshop will set the stage for greater federal action in this area.
On Monday, the Supreme Court denied cert in Zappos.com, Inc. v. Stevens, signaling that the Court remains reluctant to address privacy harms under Article III standing. The petition for certiorari in Zappos asked the Court to resolve a circuit split over whether individuals have standing where their personal information is held in a database breached by hackers, even if they have not actually suffered an injury from that data breach.
In a recent per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded a much-watch case—Frank v. Gaos—perpetuating uncertainty about privacy litigation. The Court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further consideration of the plaintiffs’ standing to sue for violations of a federal privacy law, the Stored Communications Act (SCA or Act).
Under the President’s Executive Order on AI, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is tasked with putting together a plan for federal engagement on developing standards for deploying AI technologies, and the agency confirmed Thursday that it is moving quickly to do so.
The FCC adopted a new regulatory framework intended to enable experimental use of frequencies above 95 GHz. The recently-adopted First Report and Order in the Spectrum Horizons proceeding sets up a new category of experimental licenses—called “Spectrum Horizons Licenses”—for operations between 95 GHz and 3 THz.
On February 26 and 27, commerce committees in the House and Senate convened the first consumer data privacy hearings of the 116th Congress. These hearings reflect a growing consensus on Capitol Hill that, in light of developments both in the states and overseas, a comprehensive federal privacy framework is becoming increasingly necessary to address an increasingly fragmented and incongruous patchwork of privacy regulation to the detriment of consumers and industry.