Developers Under Attack: Bills in Congress Would Turn the App Ecosystem Upside Down

The June 2022 Developers Alliance US Policy Update

Congress Still at an Impasse on Competition Legislation

While some in Congress have made every effort to appear busy at work on the American Innovation and Choice Act (S. 2992), by most accounts the bill is stalled. Since being introduced and clearing a committee hurdle earlier this year, Democratic and Republican Senators have started to raise red flags surrounding the bill. On the right, Republicans, already skeptical of giving Democrats a win this Congress, are concerned that the bill may harm free speech online. Some Democrats see the bill as stifling innovation. The one bipartisan concern is that an increasing number of Senators from both parties see the bill as an unfinished product. Whether the bill is able to garner enough support to receive a vote in this Congress remains to be seen. Its odds of doing so are decreasing with each passing week as the midterm election approaches. 

A Race to the Finish Line: Where Does Key Legislation Stand in Congress?

As we approach the midway point of the summer, it’s time to take stock of the legislation we’ve been tracking in Congress. In an era of unprecedented techlash, most of the legislation on our radar would harm developers and the products they are creating. While our industry is focused on specific legislation, the context surrounding these bills is worth mentioning. First, it is an election year, meaning there are just a few weeks left in the Congressional calendar before lawmakers depart for home to campaign. Additionally, these bills will have to compete for floor time in the House and Senate as Congress grapples with other pressing issues like gun legislation and reproductive rights.

Privacy Bill Clears First Panel in House; Hurdle Remains in Senate

On Thursday, June 23, the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce passed the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (H.R. 8152), a key privacy bill that seeks to protect consumers without stifling innovation. The bill does not preempt the entire patchwork of state privacy laws, meaning developers will have to navigate a perilous landscape where certain data practices might be legal in one state and prohibited in another. What’s more, because the bill includes a private right of action, individuals could file frivolous lawsuits which would harm the industry. The bill must now be considered by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee before it can receive a vote in the House. While there does appear to be support for the bill in the House, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has raised red flags, expressing concerns with the bill’s enforcement mechanisms.

“We applaud the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee for convening this important hearing. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act is a good first step in helping consumers and app developers better navigate a very confusing privacy landscape. Lawmakers must now work to improve the legislation by ensuring that it preempts the existing patchwork of state laws, and protects app developers from frivolous and harmful lawsuits. We appreciate the work of Congressional leaders on this critical issue, and look forward to working together to strengthen consumer protection and the app economy.”

Developers Alliance Joins Letter Supporting PTAB

Both the House of Representatives and Senate held important patent hearings the week of June 20. The House’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, as well as the Senate’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held hearings to examine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on its 10-year anniversary, and its role in spurring innovation. The hearings fell along predictable lines, with some companies calling PTAB a “patent death squad,” and others championing it. The Developers Alliance, along with Engine, the Consumer Technology Association, and ACT | The App Association sent a letter to leaders of both committees reiterating that while PTAB serves a valuable role, it can be improved.

“Ensuring meaningful access to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings promotes patent quality and benefits the nation’s startups and small business innovators. As you reflect on the past ten years of experience with the PTAB, we urge you to remember the important role the Board plays in curbing abuse of the patent system and mitigating the harm of low-quality patents…We commend you for convening today’s hearing, and we hope you will explore how to restore and improve the PTAB system to ensure it can deliver on the promise of better quality and protecting small innovators across the U.S. from invalid patents and abuse of the system.”

Avatar photo

By Geoff Lane

Policy Counsel & Head of US Policy Geoff Lane serves as the Developer Alliance’s head of U.S. policy. In this role he oversees the organization’s federal legislative and regulatory agenda as well as state-level efforts. Prior to joining the Developers Alliance in 2022, Geoff worked with senior Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives. Since his time on Capitol Hill, he has held senior roles at various technology trade associations (including a previous stint at the Developers Alliance). At each stop he led efforts at the intersection of innovation and policy. He has worked on critical policy issues including privacy, encryption, patent reform, workforce development, corporate tax, tax nexus, and research and development. Geoff holds a B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. When he is not working, you can find him booing all of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams. Geoff is based in Washington, D.C.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Content

Developers Alliance files Amicus Brief to Argue that Algorithms are Protected by the First Amendment

Developers Alliance files Amicus Brief to Argue that Algorithms are Protected by the First Amendment

With Holidays Approaching, Outlook for Dev Policies is Limited on Capitol Hill

With Holidays Approaching, Outlook for Dev Policies is Limited on Capitol Hill

Alliance Files in the U.S. Supreme Court. Again.

Alliance Files in the U.S. Supreme Court. Again.

Join the Alliance. Protect your interests.

©2022 Developers Alliance All Rights Reserved.