This Week in Washington IP: COVID-19 Counterfeit Concerns, Federal Data Privacy Legislation and Marine Energy Technology Innovations

This week in Washington IP events, intellectual property concerns take center stage on Thursday afternoon, when the Senate IP Subcommittee takes a hard look at increased risks of both cyber-attacks and counterfeit sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elsewhere, the Senate Energy Committee will explore advances to offshore and marine energy generation tech on Tuesday, while the Senate Commerce Committee will focus Wednesday on EU and state data privacy legislative efforts to determine appropriate federal-level legislation. This week also features a collection of policy institute events including a New America event looking at the historical trend of public-private collaboration on national security-related R&D, and webinars at both the Aspen Institute and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation discussing the implementation of AI technologies across sectors of the U.S. and global economy.

Monday, September 21 

House Committee on Rules 

Business Meeting 

At 1:00 PM on Monday, online video webinar.

On Monday afternoon, the House Rules Committee will convene a business meeting to discuss a series of four proposed legislative measures including H.R. 4447, the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019. This bill, also known as the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act, would provide federal grant funding for rural electric cooperatives to develop energy storage and microgrid projects which utilize renewable energy sources.

Tuesday, September 22 

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources 

Full Committee Hearing on Offshore Energy Technologies

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Many clean energy researchers have focused in recent years on energy generation technologies that take advantage of unique aspects of offshore and marine environments where hydrokinetic energy could be harvested. In late August, a team of researchers at the University of Hawaii at M?noa were selected as winners of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Marine Energy Collegiate Competition for their development of wave energy conversion technology that may potentially serve as a mobile self-charging platform for observation and autonomous underwater vehicles. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable Daniel R. Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S> Department of Energy; Dr. Walter Cruickshank, Acting Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of the Interior; Stuart Davies, CEO, Ocean Renewable Power Company, Inc.; Siri Espedal Kindem, President and CEO, Equinor Wind US; and Jonathan Lewis, Senior Counsel, Clean Air Task Force. 

Senate Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management

State and Local Cybersecurity: Defending Our Communities From Cyber Threats Amid COVID-19

At 3:00 PM on Tuesday in 342 Dirksen.

Cyber attacks on state and local governments have risen by about 50 percent each year since 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped local governments stay ahead of the technological curve in a race against ever increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers. At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is tasked with coordinating COVID-19-related cybersecurity concerns among agencies and industry partners, while also supporting the cybersecurity needs of state and local entities. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Wednesday, September 23 

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

Revisiting the Need for Federal Data Privacy Legislation

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

This summer, a pair of decisions from European courts invalidated both the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement, which governed data transfers between U.S. tech companies and European consumers, as well as a similar data privacy agreement between the U.S. and Switzerland. This hearing will focus on the implementation of data privacy laws both within U.S. states and over in the EU through that region’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Julie Brill, Former Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission (FTC); the Honorable William Kovacic, Former Chairman and Commissioner, FTC; the Honorable Jon Leibowitz, Former Chairman and Commissioner, FTC; and the Honorable Maureen Ohlhausen, Former Commissioner and Acting Chairman, FTC.

The Brookings Institution 

Could a New Digital Platform Agency Protect Consumers From Big Tech?

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Recent years have served to cement the dominance that many of the top tech platforms hold over the activities of Americans across various forms of consumer technologies. In August, a research paper suggested the creation of a Digital Platform Agency for implementing pro-consumer tech platform regulations; this paper was penned by former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and two senior fellows of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy: Phil Verveer and Gene Kimmelman. This event, hosted by Brookings’ Center for Technology Innovation, features a discussion panel including Verveer; Kimmelman; Fiona Scott Morton, Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics, Yale School of Management; Leslie C. Overton, Partner, Axinn; and moderated by Wheeler, Visiting Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

How AI Can Help People Back to Work 

At 11:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to support human resources and recruitment managers has taken on a new significance during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time during which corporate budgets have been stretched thin while the number of available candidates has swelled in many areas. This event, hosted by ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation, will explore the opportunities available for the use of AI in hiring and recruiting activities at many companies while discussing concerns raised by many employee advocates that such technologies could reinforce various biases that have historically affected the hiring market. Speakers for this event have yet to be announced.

New America 

What Science and Technology Owe the National Defense

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Traditionally, giants from the private high tech sector have enjoyed a highly collaborative relationship with the U.S. government thanks to a widening practice of establishing public-private partnerships for the development of military and combat technologies during World War II. This event, hosted by New America’s Future Tense program in partnership with Issues in Science and Technology, explores that history through the contemporary lens of today’s high tech sector which feels a much lesser duty to serve national interests. Speakers at this event include Jamie Holmes, Fellow, Future Tense, and Author, 12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon; Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle (Ret.), University Advisor on Cyber Capabilities and Conflict Studies, Arizona State University; Margaret O’Mara, Howard & Frances Keller Endowed Professor of History, University of Washington, and Author, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America; and moderated by Andrés Martinez, Editorial Director, Future Tense.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

Examining Threats to American Intellectual Property: Cyber-Attacks and Counterfeits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant shutdowns of many manufacturing and processing facilities have created grave supply chain disruptions which have led to an increased risk that counterfeiters could exploit supply chain weaknesses. Increased e-commerce purchases by American consumers in an attempt to avoid brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic also increase the chances that those consumers could unwittingly purchase counterfeited goods. The witness panel for this hearing will include Adam Hickey, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice; Clyde Wallace, Deputy Assistant Director, Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Steve Francies, Assistant Director, HSI Global Trade Investigations, Division Director, National Intellectual Property Rights Center, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Bryan S. Ware, Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Thursday, September 24 

The Aspen Institute

How Artificial Intelligence Can Work for Humanity: Ideas from the NextGen Network

At 10:00 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

The advent of AI technologies portends great advances in many areas that can aid global well-being, including advances in sustainability, health and medicine, if these technologies can be ethically implemented and properly regulated. The Aspen Institute’s NextGen Network is a program developed in partnership with Microsoft to connect young leaders from across borders to develop technology policies that are aimed at stability, governance and improved economic productivity. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including V?ra Jourová, Vice President, European Commission for Values and Transparency; Sarah Bird, Principal Program Manager, Emerging Technology and Research Strategy Lead, Responsible AI Lead, Microsoft Azure AI; and moderated by Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital, and Former President and CEO, NPR.

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