Artificial Intelligence

U.S. AI, IoT, CAV, and Privacy Legislative Update – Second Quarter 2021


Covington & Burling LLP

In this update, we detail the key legislative developments in the second quarter of 2021 related to artificial intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”), connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”), and federal privacy legislation. As we recently covered on May 12, President Biden signed an Executive Order to strengthen the federal government’s ability to respond to and prevent cybersecurity threats, including by removing obstacles to sharing threat information between private sector entities and federal agencies and modernizing federal systems. On the hill, lawmakers have introduced a number of proposals to regulate AI, IoT, CAVs, and privacy.

Artificial Intelligence

In Q2, members of Congress introduced a variety of legislative proposals to regulate AI—ranging from light touches to more prescriptive approaches.

  • A number of bills would provide funding for AI-related research and training. Most notably, the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 ( 1260), introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and which passed by the Senate, would invest more than $200 billion into U.S. scientific and technological innovation over the next five years. In particular, the bill would create the Directorate for Technology and Innovation within the National Science Foundation to research AI and machine learning, among other areas. The Artificial Intelligence for the Military Act of 2021 (S. 1776), introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), would require the introduction of curriculum for professional military education to incorporate courses of emerging technologies, like AI.
  • Several bills introduced this quarter have focused on the privacy implications of AI. For instance, the Mind Your Own Business Act of 2021 (S. 1444), introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to create regulations requiring covered entities to, among other requirements, conduct impact assessments of “high-risk automated decision systems” (which includes certain AI tools) and “high-risk information systems” that “pose a significant risk to the privacy or security” of consumers’ personal information. Likewise, the Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act of 2021 (S. 1896), introduced by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), would require online platforms to describe to users the types of algorithmic processes they employ and the information they collected; publish annual public reports detailing their content moderation practices; and maintain detailed records describing their algorithmic process for review by the FTC.