This Week in Washington IP: Antitrust Regulators Discuss Online Platforms, NASA’s Moon-Mars Program and Reauthorizing Compulsory Satellite Copyright Licenses week in tech and innovation hearings in Washington, D.C., the U.S. House of Representatives gets underway on Wednesday by exploring rulemaking at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regulating online platforms through antitrust law, preparing the medical workforce for innovation and checking the progress of NASA’s plans to put American astronauts on the Moon and Mars. Later in the week, House committees focus on innovation in water and geothermal energy as well as the impact of big tech on small businesses across America. Over in the Senate, the Senate Environment Committee holds a hearing to look at expanding commercial nuclear power and the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up various pieces of legislation, including one bill that would reauthorize compulsory licenses for satellite broadcasts under STELAR despite Copyright Office opposition to such reauthorization. Elsewhere in D.C., The Brookings Institution holds an event today to discuss potential biases that can develop through the use of algorithms in AI technologies.

Tuesday, November 12 

The Brookings Institution 

Can Algorithms Alone Reduce Online Biases?

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday at The Brookings Institution, Saul/Zilkha Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.

The growing use of algorithms in artificial intelligence technologies has led to calls on policymakers to ensure that biases against certain groups are guarded against in programs used for facial recognition, health care and other platforms. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Solon Barocas, Assistant Professor, Department of Information Science, Cornell University; Mutale Nkonde, Fellow, Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University; Karl Ricanek, Professor of Computer Science, University of North Carolina Wilmington; and moderated by Nicol Turner Lee, Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation. 

Wednesday, November 13 

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology 

Strengthening Transparency or Silencing Silence? The Future of Science in EPA Rulemaking

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the President Trump regime has been criticized for decisions to roll back regulatory standards from previous administrations. In late October, the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed a challenge to the Trump Administration’s rollback of Obama-era Clean Car Standards but told the agency that it must justify its decision to end those standards. The sole witness for the first panel of this hearing will be Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD), EPA Science Advisor. The second panel will include Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Scientist Emeritus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Director of NIEHS 2009-19; Dr. Mary Rice, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Dr. David Allison, Dean, School of Public Health, Indiana University-Bloomington, and Member, “Reproducibility and Replicability in Science” Committee, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Dr. Brian Nosek, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Open Science; and Dr. Todd Sherer, CEO, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works 

Preserving and Expanding Clean, Reliable Nuclear Power: U.S. Commercial Nuclear Reactor Performance Trends and Safety Initiatives

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

In early October, the Trump Administration granted a 30-day extension to recommendations by the White House Nuclear Fuel Working Group on domestic sourcing of nuclear fuel. Those recommendations should be released in the coming week. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

Executive Session

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Commerce Committee will meet to consider various nominations and 22 pieces of proposed legislation including S. 2789, the Satellite Television Reauthorization Act. This bill would extend Section 119 compulsory licenses for satellite retransmission of over-the-air television broadcasts until 2024 despite the U.S. Copyright Office’s repeated comments to Congress in support of letting those licenses sunset this year as planned.

House Committee on Small Business 

Upskilling the Medical Workforce: Opportunities in Health Innovation

At 11:30 AM on Wednesday in 2360 Rayburn.

By 2030, medical industry forecasts predict that the United States will have a shortage of 100,000 doctors with rural and underserved communities facing a severe lack of physicians. Innovative healthcare practices, such as remote conferencing and other information technologies, have shown the potential for improving the effectiveness of small medical practices. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Matthew Conti, Orthopaedic Surgery Resident, Hospital for Special Surgery, testifying on behalf of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Dr. Ingrid Zimmer-Galler, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Founding Clinical Director of the Office of Telemedicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, testifying on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology; Dr. Nancy Fahrenwald, Dean and Professor, Texas A&M University, College of Nursing; and Michael Hopkins, CEO and Founder, True Concepts Medical.

House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law 

Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 4: Perspectives of the Antitrust Agencies

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2141 Rayburn.

Major tech firms continue to attract scrutiny from antitrust regulators and some have encouraged a sector-specific approach, although critics of this approach have pointed out that such attempts are too broad in scope to achieve meaningful effects. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics 

Keeping Our Sights on Mars Part 2: Structuring a Moon-Mars Program for Success

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn.

In October, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made remarks at the International Astronautical Conference indicating the U.S.’ plans to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024 to prepare for a manned mission to Mars by 2035. The witness panel for this hearing will include Lt. General Thomas Stafford, USAF (Ret.), Member, National Academy of Engineering, Chairman, NASA ISS Advisory Committee; and A. Thomas Young, Former Director of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Former President and Chief Operating Officer, Martin Marietta Corp.

Thursday, November 14 

House Subcommittee on Technology Modernization 

Cybersecurity Challenges and Cyber Risk Management at the Department of Veterans Affairs

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 210 House Visitors Center.

In October, the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs disclosed a security breach stemming back to 2016 which exposed data from more than 25,000 people who remotely use VA services. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Full Committee Markup

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn.

On Thursday morning, the House Science Committee will markup a few proposed pieces of legislation including H.R. 4990, the Election Technology Research Act.

House Committee on Small Business

A Fair Playing Field? Investigating Big Tech’s Impact on Small Business

At 1:00 PM on Thursday in 2360 Rayburn.

The rise of digital platforms over the past decade have given small businesses various tools for reaching consumers but concerns have been raised regarding how small businesses have come to rely on those platforms. The first panel for this hearing will include Dharmesh Metra, Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon; Erica Swanson, Head of Community Engagement, Grow with Google, Google; and Joe Kennedy, Senior Fellow, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. The second panel for this hearing will include Allyson Cavaretta, Principal and Owner, Meadowmere Resort; Molson Hart, CEO, Viahart Toy Co.; Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge; Theo Prodromitis, Co-Founder and CEO, Spa Destinations; Jake Ward, President, Connected Commerce Council; and Graham Dufault, Senior Director for Public Policy, ACT | The App Association.

House Subcommittee on Energy

Water and Geothermal Power: Unearthing the Next Wave of Energy Innovation

At 2:00 PM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn.

A new method for discovering geothermal energy sources funded by the U.S. Department of Energy has recently led to researchers finding a pair of underground hot water sources in Nevada which can be used for geothermal wells. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. David Solan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Bryson Robertson, Co-Director, Pacific Marine Energy Center, and Associate Professor, Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University; Dr. Joseph Moore, Manager, Utah Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), Research Professor, University of Utah; Ms. Maria Richards, Director, Geothermal Laboratory, Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Southern Methodist University; and Sander Cohan, Director, Innovation, Enel Green Power North America, Inc.

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Join the Discussion

2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for anonymous]
    November 12, 2019 05:56 pm

    It is too rich that Thursday’s hearing on “Investigating Big Tech’s Impact on Small Business” includes Amazon and Google on the first panel. That alone speaks volumes, instead of the panel hearing from small businesses that may have been harmed or put out of business. Part of the harm is that small businesses don’t get a seat at the table.

    I wonder how much Amazon, Google, and Apple have ever paid, or budgeted, to license patents held by small businesses or sole inventors. I’d bet they pay 10,000x more in attorneys fees and litigation costs than they do to license from small businesses. Apple’s spend for IPRs and contributions to congress dwarfs what they pay to license technology from small business. They know it is more profitable to pay for lawmakers than to pay for licenses.

    When efficient infringement and/or willful patent infringement is part of your very business model, how can congress justify giving them the first two seats in their own investigation?

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    November 12, 2019 04:03 pm

    Dear Congress:

    So many hearings on this, that, and the other.

    All while the unconstitutional PTAB (see Arthrex) and many courts continue to trash American innovation with impunity . . . on an almost daily basis.

    Where’s that Section 101 / eligibility restoration (without ping-ponging the same trashing over to Section 112 by unnecessarily modifying it) that our Country so desperately needs?

    Where? Is? It?

    How much more can America stand?