Week in Review

Font Size:

Justice Department sues to block California’s net neutrality law, Senate establishes Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency, and more…

Font Size:


  • The U.S. Department of Justice sued to block California’s net neutrality law, claiming that only the federal government can regulate the Internet under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. “The California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu described the dispute as a “fundamental question of federalism”—whether states can “fill in gaps” left by the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality regulation.
  • The U.S. Senate passed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, establishing a cybersecurity agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency would be called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency and would include three divisions handling cybersecurity, infrastructure security, and emergency communications. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated that DHS is “responsible for federal efforts” to protect critical infrastructure, and she stressed the need to “streamline the organization so that we can become more operational.”
  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced a settlement with Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, on securities fraud charges stemming from a tweet that falsely claimed Musk had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share. The settlement required Musk and Tesla to pay a fine of $20 million each, mandated stricter oversight of Musk’s communications, and removed Musk as Tesla’s chairman.
  • A federal judge blocked the Trump Administration from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for migrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California wrote that “TPS beneficiaries and their children indisputably will suffer irreparable harm and great hardship” if TPS were terminated. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen previously justified the termination by reportedly saying that she was bound by law to do so and that it was “Congress’s job” to give permanent status to those covered.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft proposal of a rule regulating hydrofluorocarbons—greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning that contribute to global warming. The proposal would remove a section of the rule added by the Obama Administration that highlighted the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations, including how “children’s unique physiological and developmental factors contribute” to their vulnerability.
  • California Governor Edmund G. Brown (D) signed into law a bill that would require every publicly held corporation with executive offices in California to have “a minimum of one female director on its board” by the end of 2019. The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill as an “unconstitutional” civil rights violation, but Brown stated that it was “high time” that corporate boards “have a representative number of women.”
  • The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined Tesco Bank £16.4 million for failing to adequately protect its account holders from a 2016 cyberattack. The perpetrators of the attack likely used an algorithm to create debit card numbers that enabled them to steal £2.26 million over the course of two days. “The fine the FCA imposed on Tesco Bank today reflects the fact that the FCA has no tolerance for banks that fail to protect customers from foreseeable risks,” Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight Mark Steward said.
  • The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) alleged that Facebook Messenger Kids, a messaging service for children under 13, violates federal privacy law in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. The CCFC accused Facebook of using Messenger Kids to collect personal information from children without verifying the consent of their parents and without informing parents of Facebook’s data practices—in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Meanwhile, Facebook Messenger Kids states on its website that it complies with COPPA.
  • The Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) in Austin, Texas took effect this week, requiring restaurants and other food service establishments to “divert discarded organic material, such as food scraps or soiled paper products, from landfills.” Diversion methods include food donations and composting, and the city has scheduled free URO training sessions for business owners and managers.