This Week in Washington IP: FCC Oversight, Autonomous Systems for Transporting Goods and Digital Systems for COVID-19 Stimulus Payments

By IPWatchdog
June 22, 2020 week in Washington IP events, Tuesday kicks off with a House Space Subcommittee hearing on research and development into social distancing configurations in air travel seating, while the House IP Subcommittee holds a hearing on Thursday to explore innovation and technology used by the federal court system in their response to COVID-19. The Senate Commerce Committee will likely look at funding for rural broadband initiatives during a Wednesday hearing on Federal Communications Commission oversight. Among tech policy institutes, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation discusses the future of autonomous vehicle systems in goods transportation, while New America hosts several events this week on digital payment systems, meat produced without animal agriculture, Section 230 liability provisions for online service providers and broadband initiatives to aid American schoolchildren. 

Tuesday, June 23 

New America 

Transformation: Payments 

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

With delays in stimulus checks during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the shortcomings of traditional payment systems, some have suggested that the nation’s economy would benefit from greater deployment of digital payment systems for direct transfer payments. This event, part of the Transformation series hosted by New America’s Digital Impact and Governance Initiative, will feature a panel discussion including Chris Giancarlo, Former Chairman, CFTC, Senior Counsel, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and Project Director, Digital Dollar Project; Dante Disparte, Head of Policy and Communications for the Libra Association, and Founder and Chairman, Risk Cooperative; Sandra Ro, CEO, Global Blockchain Business Council; and moderated by Tomicah Tillemann, Executive Director, Digital Impact and Governance Initiative. 

House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics 

R&D to Support Healthy Air Travel in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond

At 11:30 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

The constraints posed by social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 era has prompted many industries to seek innovative solutions to continue serving customers. In the air travel sector, this has included novel seating designs such as lay-flat seating configurations and physical barriers for shielding passengers. The witness panel for this hearing includes Heather Krause, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office; Dr. Byron Jones, Professor, Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, and Director, National Gas Machinery Laboratory, Kansas State University; and Dr. Vicki Hertzberg, Professor and Director, Center for Data Science, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University.

New America 

Chase Purdy, Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food

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

Environmental concerns over animal agriculture, including issues stemming from deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions, have spurred a great deal of research and development in creating meat products grown in laboratory settings. Speakers at this event include Chase Purdy, 2019 National Fellow, New America, and Author, Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food; and Christopher Leonard, 2014 National Fellow, New America, and Author, Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America.

New America

Free Speech Project: What’s a Gatekeeper to Do? 

At 4:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Limited liability provisions for online service providers under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act have become increasingly politicized since President Donald Trump’s executive order directing the Federal Communications Commission to clarify good faith qualifications for platforms seeking limited liability under Section 230. This event will feature a panel discussion including David Kaye, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Justice Clinic, the University of California, Irvine School of Law, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Kate Klonick, Assistant Professor of Law, St. John’s University Law School, and Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School; and Jennifer Daskal, Professor and Faculty Director, Tech, Law, & Security Program, American University Washington College of Law.


Wednesday, June 24

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission

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

In early June, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the agency consider expediting federal funding for rural broadband initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman, FCC; the Honorable Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner, FCC; the Honorable Brendan Carr, Commissioner, FCC; the Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, FCC, and the Honorable Geoffrey Starks, Commissioner, FCC.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

What Is the Future of Transporting Goods Autonomously in the United States?

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

The use of autonomous driving technologies to transport goods through their supply chains had been contemplated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but the global shutdown and social distancing requirements have increased the focus on the technology’s potential. Self-driving systems are at an early stage of development, however, and regulatory issues exist at both the national and local level which are slowing adoption of these technologies. This event will feature a panel discussion including Duane Hughes, CEO, Workhorse Group Inc.; Warren Stubbs, Director of Information System Development, Norfolk Southern Railway; and moderated by Michael McLaughlin, Research Analyst, ITIF.

The Aspen Institute

Innovators In Health & Climate: A Virtual Exchange of Ideas

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

This event is the latest edition of Aspen Institute’s Innovators In ______: A Virtual Exchange of Ideas digital series which seeks to present engaging discussions on the intersection of climate change and key industry sectors.

Thursday, June 25 

House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet 

Federal Courts During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Best Practices, Opportunities for Innovation, and Lessons for the Future

At 9:00 AM on Thursday in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

By the middle of April, 88 of 94 U.S. federal district courts had suspended in-person proceedings and, along with all 13 federal courts of appeals, were turning to video conferencing technologies in order to conduct judicial proceedings. These technological platforms have raised some concerns over maintaining public accessibility to court trials, but the use of these platforms by the judiciary will continue during the COVID-19 era. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

New America 

Closing the Home Learning and Homework Gap

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

School closures and the rapid shift to online classroom environments during the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an added stress on the 7 million school-aged American children who lack adequate access to broadband Internet connections. This event will feature a keynote discussion on potential legislative solutions to address the homework gap through funding connectivity initiatives; this discussion will include the Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, FCC; Karen Cator, President and CEO, Digital Promise; and Sarah Morris, Director, New America’s Open Technology Institute. Following that will be a panel discussion on innovative uses of community broadband and Wi-Fi networks; that discussion will include David Fringer, Chief Technology Officer, Council Bluffs (IA) Community School District; Vickie Robinson, Director, Airband Initiative–USA, Microsoft; Randal Phelps, Chief Technology Officer, East Side Union H.S. District, San Jose, CA; Tina Hike-Hubbard, Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools; and Michael Calabrese, Director, Wireless Future Project, OTI.

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