This Week in Washington IP: Voting System Security, USMCA Implementation and Consumer Deception on the Internet

This week in Washington D.C., Capitol Hill remains rather quiet as both houses of Congress begin to return from the holiday recess. However, the House of Representatives will host hearings on forms of Internet deception that are harmful to American consumers as well as cybersecurity issues related to digital voting platforms. In the Senate, the Senate Finance Committee will discuss the implementation of the USMCA, the recently negotiated North American free trade agreement replacing NAFTA, which includes important provisions on intellectual property. Elsewhere in the Capital., the Center for Strategic and International Studies explores NASA’s role in American foreign policy while The Wilson Center gathers educators and esports executives for an event focused on improving outcomes for U.S. students. 

Tuesday, January 7 

Senate Committee on Finance 

Open Executive Session to Consider H.R. 5430, The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act

At 9:30 AM on Tuesday in 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

In December, Capitol Hill and the White House reached an accord that allowed the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Agreement to move forward as the trade treaty that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although many observers of the USMCA negotiations were hopeful that the free trade agreement would include heightened intellectual property protections, IPWatchdog Founder Gene Quinn has reported that the USMCA falls short in terms of IP protections necessary to properly incentivize biologics innovation. This open executive session will feature the Senate Finance Committee discussing the USMCA and the legal framework by which Capitol Hill can ratify the agreement.

Wednesday, January 8 

House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce
House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce 

Americans At Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age

At 10:30 AM on Wednesday in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

American consumers are increasingly dependent upon the Internet as a medium for obtaining news on current events or purchase various everyday items. Unfortunately, consumers have been having to navigate a growing list of different forms of online deception, including digitally manipulated videos or “deepfakes,” e-commerce tricks known as “dark patterns” and social media bots designed to spread misinformation. The witness panel for this hearing includes Monika Bickert, Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism, Facebook; Joan Donovan, Ph.D, Research Director of the Technology and Social Change Project, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Tristan Harris, Executive Director, Center for Humane Technology; and Justin Hurwitz, Associate Professor of Law, Director of the NU Governance and Technology Center, University of Nebraska College of Law, Director of Law and Economics Programs, International Center for Law and Economics.

Thursday, January 9 

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Examining NASA’s Role in U.S. Foreign Policy

At 9:00 AM on Thursday at CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has played a very important role in promoting the United States’ international interests through the second half of the 20th century and the early parts of the 21st century. This CSIS event will feature a conversation on NASA’s past and future impact on American foreign policy with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Todd Harrison, Director, Defense Budget Analysis, Director, Aerospace Security Project, and Senior Fellow, International Security Program.

The Wilson Center

ED Games Expo Showcase: Esports & Education

At 9:00 AM on Thursday at The Wilson Center, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 6th Floor, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004.

The economic impact of the growing esports industry is expected to reach revenues of $1 billion during 2020. This event will focus on how U.S. educators can harness the popularity of esports among children and teenagers in order to improve educational outcomes for students. The keynote address at this event will be given by Ellen Zavian, Professor of Sports Law, GWU and GW Law and Editor-in-Chief, Esports and the Law. A pair of panel discussions will follow the keynote address. The first panel, which will focus on the economics of esports, will include Andres Lahiguera, International Trade Specialist, Department of Commerce; Grant Paranjape, Vice President of Esports Business for the Washington Justice; Joshua Hafkin, Owner and Founder of Game Gym; and moderated by Mike Hume, Editor for Launcher, The Washington Post. The second panel, which will explore growing esports in education, will include Christina Riegel, ResNET Assistant Director, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Hunter Jamison, Senior Student Consultant, Carolina Gaming Arena, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Professor David Hughes, Department of Sports Management, Hampton University; and moderated by Greg Toppo, Journalist and Author of The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter.

House Committee on House Administration

2020 Election Security – Perspectives from Voting System Vendors and Experts

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 1310 Longworth House Office Building.

The use of digital voting platforms for government elections has increased in recent years but the sensitive nature of elections raises a host of concerns about cybersecurity. Current voting systems continue to face major issues related to buggy software, malicious actors hacking into secure databases and a lack of voter privacy. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.


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