Lawmakers Jet Home for Summer Break, But Not Before They Chip Away at Privacy and AI

July 2023 US Policy Update

Senate Panel Advances Two Bills That Will Hurt Small Firms and User Privacy

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously advanced both the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0) out of committee. Both bills would make it more difficult for firms – especially small- and medium-sized firms – to operate. The bill would force devs to act as cops on the beat, forcing them to verify all users’ ages as well as blocking content that users may find objectionable. Instead of making the ecosystem safer for kids, these bills would diminish both children’s and adult’s privacy and curb content creators’ free speech. While the lawmakers’ goals are noble, both KOSA and COPPA 2.0 are knee-jerk attempts that will only end up stifling innovation and harming users. 

In passing both bills, the Senate Commerce Committee took another step in advancing them to the Senate floor for consideration. We anticipate they will be voted on in the fall. There is no word whether the House will consider similar legislation (a prerequisite for them to become law). 

White House, Industry Leaders, Agree on AI Principles

CEOs from Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI met with President Biden at the White House to signal their voluntary agreement to a set of eight AI commitments. A White House official said the companies’ commitment is meant to “underscore three key principles that must be fundamental to the future of AI: safety, security, and trust.” 

The eight voluntary commitments are:

  1. Commit to internal and external red-teaming of models or systems in areas including misuse, societal risks, and national security concerns, such as bio, cyber, and other safety areas.
  2. Work toward information sharing among companies and governments regarding trust and safety risks, dangerous or emergent capabilities, and attempts to circumvent safeguards.
  3. Invest in cybersecurity and insider threat safeguards to protect proprietary and unreleased model weights.
  4. Incent third-party discovery and reporting of issues and vulnerabilities.
  5. Develop and deploy mechanisms that enable users to understand if audio or visual content is AI-generated, including robust provenance, watermarking, or both, for AI-generated audio or visual content
  6. Publicly report model or system capabilities, limitations, and domains of appropriate and inappropriate use, including discussion of societal risks, such as effects on fairness and bias 
  7. Prioritize research on societal risks posed by AI systems, including on avoiding harmful bias and discrimination, and protecting privacy 
  8. Develop and deploy frontier AI systems to help address society’s greatest challenges

The agreements come as Capitol Hill continues to grapple with how to regulate AI.

Contact the Developers Alliance with any concerns about how these commitments might impact small- and medium-sizes firms. 

Senate Subcommittee Hearing Holds AI Regulation Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law held a hearing on July 25th titled “Oversight of A.I.: Principles for Regulation.” Subcommittee Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said at the outset that the hearing would be used to create tangible principles for AI regulation. Witnesses were unanimous in their calls for greater AI regulation, calling for a licensing regime, testing and auditing, the creation of national and international regulatory bodies, kill switches, and limits on AI’s uses in nuclear weapons. Chairman Blumenthal reiterated his desire to create a new agency to regulate AI. Ranking Member Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he looks at AI through a workers, kids, consumer, and national security lens. Senator Hawley, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also all mentioned the need for enhanced privacy protections and stronger content moderation laws in the AI age.

We expect increased activity on Capitol Hill in the AI space when lawmakers return in the fall. Your voice is critical in helping policymakers better understand what AI is, how it works, and how their regulations impact devs and consumers. 

Senator Leahy, Staunch Defender of Small Innovators, Writes Op-Ed Slamming USPTO Proposal

Former Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) penned an op-ed in the Boston Herald on July 24th throwing cold water on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) proposed changes to the inter partes review program. These changes, according to Senator Leahy, would be especially burdensome for the “little guy,” incentivizing patent trolls to target small, under-resourced firms. Said the Senator, “At the end of the day, the USPTO’s proposals would allow even more invalid patents to be weaponized against the American economy, especially small businesses, job creators, and manufacturers. The agency cannot simply rewrite the law as they see fit. That’s the role of Congress.” Senator Leahy authored the America Invents Act in 2011, which expanded the inter partes review program, and was passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He noted that his bill, and inter partes review specifically, helped to create a more fair and competitive ecosystem for small inventors, as well as cracking down on abusive litigation by patent trolls. 

The Developers Alliance weighed in on this important issue, filing comments with the USPTO on June 16th. 

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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.

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