At a glance.
- Section 230 revisions mulled by the US Congress.
- State cyber regulations: New York, Virginia, and Washington.
- Nevada's governor considers "Innovation Zones."
230 in ’21.
Last Friday three US senators introduced the SAFE TECH Act, which Protocol says is likely the first of many proposals we’ll see this year for reforming Section 230. The Democrat-sponsored Act would eliminate immunity for ads along with breaches of antitrust, stalking, wrongful death, human rights, and civil rights laws, but not, Wired notes, defamation laws. The bill would attempt to restrict protections to “speech,” instead of any “information,” like illegal weapons listings, posted on platforms—though some consider the definition of “speech” broad enough to include economic activity. Taking up Mr. Hamburger’s idea, the proposal also erases immunity from injunctions. Alleged violations would of course need to be tried in court.
Wired worries the law won’t ameliorate disinformation, while two legal experts fear the reform’s patchwork methodology could result in “an unwieldy and complicated law.” Reforms put forward by platforms, in contrast, have focused on transparency and collaboration, not (predictably) changes that would invite regular lawsuits. The proposal also ignores Republicans’ concerns about censorship, concerns increasingly shared by international leaders, as the Associated Press reports.
State cyber regulation: New York, Virginia, and Washington.
The Department of Financial Services (DFS) in the US state of New York (NY) published a groundbreaking “cyber insurance risk framework” that promotes best practices for NY property and casualty insurers, PropertyCasualty360 reports. Insurance Journal quotes the DFS superintendent as saying, “Cybersecurity is the biggest risk for government and industry, bar none.” The framework encourages insurers to address silent and systemic risk, employ cyber experts, partner with and educate clients, require customers to inform law enforcement of attacks, and develop a standardized risk assessment strategy. A bit of history: the first cyber policy was written in 1997. By 2025, the market could be worth over $20 billion.
Down in Virginia, the Consumer Data Protection Act is on the brink of passing, according to the Wall Street Journal. Beginning in 2023, the law would allow residents to request, amend, or scrub data gathered by larger businesses, and decline to have their data sold or used for targeted ads. Amazon endorsed the proposal, which unlike the California Consumer Privacy Act, would only permit the state attorney general, not consumers, to seek damages.
Over in Washington, lawmakers have introduced a bill to create an office of cybersecurity and mandate rapid cyber incident reporting, Tri-City Herald reports. The State Auditor’s Office suffered a supply chain breach in December, which The Columbian says revealed social security, driver’s license, and bank account numbers and attracted bipartisan concern over the type of data stored. The new office would centralize authorities and communications and establish best practices.
Company towns coming to Nevada?
The US state of Nevada, in a bid to foster economic development, is considering the creation of “Innovation Zones,” effectively “alternative forms of local government.” Companies with large tracts of undeveloped land--and there’s no shortage of undeveloped land in Nevada, would be able to organize local governments, with authority to impose taxes, form school districts and courts and provide government services. Effectively, they would be able to do the sorts of things a county government is able to do.
The proposal hasn’t yet been introduced into the legislature, but it was featured in Governor Steve Sisolak’s state-of-the-state address last month. The governor’s view is that traditional local government models are “inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal says it’s obtained a copy of the proposal, and writes that, if adopted, the proposed Innovation Zones would work something like this:
“The Governor’s Office of Economic Development would oversee applications for the zones, which would be limited to companies working in specific business areas including blockchain, autonomous technology, the Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, wireless, biometrics and renewable resource technology.
“Zone requirements would include applicants owning at least 78 square miles (202 square kilometers) of undeveloped, uninhabited land within a single county but separate from any city, town or tax increment area. Companies would have at least $250 million and plans to invest an additional $1 billion in their zones over 10 years.
“The zones would initially operate with the oversight of their location counties, but would eventually take over county duties and become independent governmental bodies.
“The zones would have three-member supervisor boards with the same powers as county commissioners. The businesses would maintain significant control over board membership.”