In this update, we detail the key legislative updates in the second quarter of 2020 related to artificial intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”), cybersecurity as it relates to AI and IoT, and connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”). The volume of legislation on these topics has slowed but not ceased, as lawmakers increasingly focus on the pandemic and the upcoming national election. As Congress processes Appropriations bills, it continues to look to support and fund these technologies. We will continue to update you on meaningful developments between these quarterly updates across our blogs.

Artificial Intelligence

Although state legislatures have been quiet in the second quarter of 2020, members of Congress have continued to introduce bills studying the implications of AI-related technologies or limiting their use by the government.

  • Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced the Advancing Quantum Computing Act (H.R. 6919), which would require the Secretary of Commerce to conduct surveys related to the impact of quantum computing, such as the industry sectors that develop and use the technology and the public-private partnerships that support its adoption. Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) introduced a comparable bill focused on the impact of facial recognition—the Advancing Facial Recognition Act (H.R. 6929). And Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced a similar bill focused on the impact of AI—the Generating Artificial Intelligence Networking Security (GAINS) Act (H.R. 6950). One noteworthy bill is the Countering Online Harms Act (H.R. 6937) introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY). It would direct the FTC to conduct a study on how AI may be used to address “online harms,” including “[d]eceptive and fraudulent content intended to scam or otherwise harm individuals,” “[w]ebsite or mobile application interfaces designed to intentionally mislead or exploit individuals,” and “disinformation campaigns,” among others.
  • Recent bills have also focused on limiting the use of AI-related technologies in law enforcement practices. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)’s George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120), which recently passed the House, would require federal law enforcement officers “with the authority to conduct searches and make arrests” to wear body cameras, and would prohibit those cameras from being equipped with real time facial recognition technologies (the use of facial recognition software at a later time would require a warrant). Senator Ed Markey’s (D-MA) Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act would in general ban any federal agency or official from using any biometric surveillance system, or any information derived from a biometric surveillance system operated by another entity, subject to limited exceptions.

Internet of Things

Lawmakers have introduced a handful of new legislative measures in the second quarter of 2020. These measures have primarily focused on: (1) reimbursements for connected devices, such as laptops and computers, from government funds during the pandemic, and (2) incorporating IoT technologies into manufacturing processes.

  • Three bills have been introduced in Congress this quarter related to reimbursements for laptops, tablets, and other connected devices. Most recently, the Emergency Broadband Connections Act of 2020 (H.R. 6881), introduced by Rep. Marc A. Veasey (D-TX) would allow providers of laptop and desktop computers and tablets to households eligible for free and reduced price lunch to be reimbursed up to $100 from the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund. The Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 (H.R. 6563) would provide support for WiFi hotspots, modems, routers, and other connected devices to be used during the COVID-19 pandemic in elementary schools, secondary schools, and libraries. This bill was introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and has 93 Democratic cosponsors. Finally, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (H.R. 6379) would allot $2B in funding for an “Emergency Connectivity Fund.” This Fund could be used to provide WiFi hotspots and connected devices to schools and libraries. This bill was introduced by House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and has nine Democratic cosponsors.
  • The Advancing IoT Manufacturing Act (H.R. 6939) would require the Department of Commerce to study and report on the impact of manufacturing in U.S. and how to incorporate IoT. Among other things, this study would involve (1) outreach to manufacturers to review IoT solutions in industry, (2) establishing a list of agencies with jurisdiction to regulate IoT, and (3) surveying the marketplace to identify risks and trends in supply chains for IoT technologies. This bill was introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).

Cybersecurity – Relating to AI and IoT

In the second quarter of 2020 Congressional efforts on AI and IoT cybersecurity were significantly diminished. Pending measures showed no movement as Congress largely focused on other legislative priorities in this time period.

In May, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the Cybersecurity Competitions to Yield Better Efforts to Research the Latest Exceptionally Advanced Problems (CYBER LEAP) Act of 2020 (S. 3712). This bill would require the Secretary of Commerce to establish national cybersecurity grand challenges to achieve high-priority cybersecurity breakthroughs, including in the areas of emerging technology like AI, quantum science, and next generation communications technologies. This bill was considered by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and ordered to be reported with an amendment favorably in late May.

Connected and Automated Vehicles

As detailed in an earlier post, the COVID-19 pandemic has created both speed bumps and accelerants for CAV developments in the United States.

At the federal level, another quarter has closed without federal legislators introducing a bipartisan, bicameral bill that seeks to comprehensively regulate CAVs. Federal legislators, however, continue to drive efforts towards developing such a bill. In May, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) sent a letter to CAV industry groups asking for input on how Congress could help to advance self-driving cars during the pandemic. Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Walden also joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) in commending the automotive sector for using innovative technologies to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some other new legislation touches on the CAV industry. On June 11, 2020, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act (H.R. 2). The bill, which passed the House just before the July 4th recess, would authorize nearly $500 billion over five years to address infrastructure needs in the country, including to increase funding for technology innovations in surface transportation. As relevant to CAVs, it seeks to establish a national Highly Automated Vehicle and Mobility Innovation Clearinghouse to study the societal impacts of automated vehicles and mobility on demand and authorize research on the safety of interactions between automated vehicles and road users. Also of note, the Advancing Unmanned Delivery Services Act (H.R. 6943) was introduced by Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH) earlier this spring. This bill would require the U.S. Department of Commerce to study and report on the impact of unmanned delivery services on U.S. businesses conducting interstate commerce.

Federal regulators also continued to drive forward CAV-related initiatives, both in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in furtherance of goals established prior to the pandemic. For instance, in light of COVID-19, NHTSA developed a Coronavirus resources page. NHTSA also introduced the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) Initiative, which creates a data-sharing platform for federal, state, and local governments to coordinate and share information about CAV testing and technology. The initiative marks NHTSA’s first attempt to share CAV test data with the public. Additionally, NHTSA is reviewing public comments submitted in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, considering ways “to improve safety and update rules that no longer make sense” for certain CAVs. The U.S. Department of Transportation, meanwhile, entered Stage 1 of its Inclusive Design Challenge in April, requesting written proposals describing design solutions to enable individuals with disabilities to use CAVs to access jobs, healthcare, and other critical destinations.

State legislators have continued to drive some CAV-related efforts forward. For instance, California’s AB 3116 moved through the legislature, amidst debate. As we discussed in a recent post, the bill would authorize a public agency that issues a permit to an operator of mobility services to require that operator to periodically submit certain anonymized trip data (e.g., GPS data, addresses, and times of routes traveled) from mobility devices (e.g., e-scooters, AVs), and would also clarify privacy protections for trip data under state law. Our previous post discusses the ways in which contact tracing is influencing considerations of the bill.

If you have any questions concerning the material discussed in this client alert, please contact the following members of our Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things practices:

Holly Fechner                                    +1 202 662 5475          
Jennifer Johnson                              +1 202 662 5552          
Lindsey Tonsager                             +1 415 591 7061