The state of Virginia might be the next state to enact a privacy law. Senate Bill No. 1392 recently passed the Senate and is likely on its way to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk.  The bill adds the Consumer Data Protection Act to the Virginia Code and includes definitions of biometric data, precise geolocation data, profiling, sensitive data, and targeted advertising. The bill’s effective date is January 1, 2023.

The bill will apply to persons who conduct business in the Commonwealth or produce products or services that are targeted to residents of the Commonwealth, and that (i) during a calendar year, control or process data of at least 100,000 consumers or (ii) control or process personal data of at least 25,000 consumers and derive over 50 percent of gross revenues from the sale of personal data. The law would not apply to any state or local government agency, to financial institutions subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or to covered entities or business associates governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act).

Consumer rights include the following:

  1. The right to know whether or not a controller is processing the consumer’s personal data and the right to access such personal data;
  2. The right to correct inaccuracies in the consumer’s personal data;
  3. The right to delete personal data provided by or obtained about the consumer;
  4. The right to data portability; and
  5. The right to opt out of the processing of the personal data for purposes of (i) targeted advertising, (ii) the sale of personal data, or (iii) profiling in furtherance of decisions that produce legal or similarly significant effects concerning the consumer.

The bill is designed to feature data controllers and data processors and organizes the rights and responsibilities of each according to those roles. There is no private right-of-action in this bill, as the Attorney General is charged with enforcing violations. The Attorney General will have the exclusive authority to enforce violations in the name of the Commonwealth or on behalf of individual persons residing in the Commonwealth.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last week that it will be working with industry leaders and public stakeholders to develop a traffic management system for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones). UAS traffic management (UTM) requires a framework for systems to safely operate multiple UAS at once. The FAA wants to first establish operating rules before industry service providers and operators would coordinate the execution of flights.

For example, operators want to use smart-phone applications to map routes for drone flights and to check flight restrictions. The FAA has been working on UTM for drones since about 2015, when it first partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In November 2020, the FAA conducted flight tests through its UTM pilot program in Virginia and is working on an implementation plan based on that research. However, industry stakeholders have asked for more information on the next steps, and it is uncertain whether the FAA’s plan will include performance goals and measures (which is not statutorily required).

The FAA says it will use results from the pilot program to assist it in creating its implementation plan. However, the industry has voiced concern about the limited release of information related to UTM technology.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that the FAA: (1) provide stakeholders with additional information on the timing and substance of UTM testing and implementation efforts via the FAA’s UTM website or other appropriate means, and (2) develop performance goals and measures for its UTM implementation plan. The Department of Transportation agreed with those recommendations.

With more available data from the FAA’s research in its pilot program, members of the UAS industry and public stakeholders will be able to better align their own activities with those of the FAA and make better decisions for UTM testing and implementation.