Uber Hack – Don’t Tell Anyone!

It’s been revealed that Uber’s database has been hacked, with the personal information of more than 57 million users and drivers worldwide compromised. That’s a big number, but we are becoming increasingly numb to this kind of revelation, with all the cyber-leaks now making the news. What was the more astounding aspect of this particular incident is the fact it has taken Uber over a year to reveal the security breach – with the attack taking place in October 2016.

Uber says that the hackers were able to download files containing information including the names and driver’s licence numbers of 600,000 drivers in the US, as well as the names, email addresses and phone numbers of millions of users worldwide.

Although Uber has now taken steps to notify the drivers affected by the hack, it’s reported that at the time of the breach, the company paid the hackers USD100,000 to delete the stolen data, and not reveal the breach.

In a statement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshani admitted that he became aware of the “inappropriate access [of] user data stored on a third-party cloud-based service” late last year, and that steps were taken to secure the data, and shut down further unauthorised access. However, Mr Khosrowshani noted he has no excuse as to why the massive breach is only being made public now.

For their roles in the cover-up, Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan and his deputy have been ousted, while Uber says it’s taking “several actions”, including consulting the former general counsel of the US’ National Security Agency to prevent a future data breach.

This post was written by Cameron Abbott & Allison Wallace of K & L Gates.,Copyright 2017
For more legal analysis, go to The National Law Review

Automotive Supplier Industry Experts Convene in Detroit and Share 2018 Outlook

The Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) held its 19th Annual Conference this week in suburban Detroit under the theme:  “The Industry’s New Landscape.”  And while much of the day was devoted to autonomous vehicle developments and the potential negative impacts on the industry’s North American competitiveness that would result from substantial changes to NAFTA, the afternoon session included a robust discussion of today’s strong market in North America and the more guarded outlook for 2018 and beyond.

 During this session, Mike Jackson, Executive Director of Strategy and Research for the OESA moderated a panel called “Cycle Dynamics:  The Industry Outlook Panel,” comprised of a leading automotive forecaster, a leading Wall Street analyst and the lead economist for one of the world’s largest OEMs.  While the panel remained fairly optimistic about the near term, the longer term theme was that the automotive industry is cyclical and the next down cycle is SOMEWHERE OUT THERE …

The panelists included Dr. G. Mustafa Mohatarem, Chief Economist, General Motors; John Murphy, Managing Director, U.S. Autos Equity Research, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Michael Robinet, Managing Director, Automotive Advisory Services, IHS Markit.

Dr. Mohatarem began with a very optimistic evaluation of the global economy, referring to our current condition as a “global synchronous expansion.”  Not only is the U.S. economy strong, but China’s growth has exceeded recent expectations, the EU has experienced a mini-boom after dodging a debt crisis, India continues to grow steadily and Russia and Brazil’s recessions have ended.  He noted that the current U.S. production rate is 17.4 -17.5 million units for 2017, a healthy market if not quite as healthy as last year.  On the cautionary side, he noted a potentially more hawkish bent to Fed policy and a significant labor shortage that will continue to dog the U.S. automotive industry.  On the whole though, he noted: “this is a very favorable time for the global automotive industry.”

Mike Robinet summed up current supplier sentiment as follows:  suppliers see the demand and the market opportunities out there, but there will be a lot of disruptors that can derail them.  These disruptors include the impact of “ACES” (AutonomousConnectedElectrifiedand Shared), the emergence of “Super Tier 1’s” who may dominate the future landscape with their integration capabilities (leaving other suppliers behind potentially), shifting trade winds, indecision about U.S. regulatory policy including CAFÉ standards, and an acceleration of the planning cycle that creates execution risk.  He noted that the cadence of model changes has kept the supply base on its toes this year, as has the adjustment to the continuing decline in sedan sales (which was viewed by the panel as a continuing trend into the future).  Will the internal combustion engine disappear soon?  According to Robinet, 95% of the vehicles in North America will have an engine on board by 2025.  Places like China will see a faster adoption of EVs during this period, he noted, including as a result of government policies promoting them. He ended by cautioning suppliers not to focus too much on the “nirvana” of Level 5 autonomy, but rather to focus on the movement to Level 3 and 4 in the shorter term and try to find there place in those realms.

John Murphy, more bullish in recent times, conceded that he has “moderated his outlook a bit.”  Murphy noted that leasing is helping support current demand, but worries about the upcoming impacts on the used car market as those vehicles come off lease (which he referred to as a “tsunami” that will hit in 2018 and beyond).  He noted that vehicle pricing is also starting to moderate (unrelated to just mix), and that the CUV market is getting very crowded.  He described three “Big Bangs” that will shape the industry in the future:  The increase in the Efficiency of Travel (cost per mile), the impact of Autonomous Mobility On Demand on the ease and cost of travel, and the increase in Speed of Travel.  Only the latter will provide a material economic stimulus – the first two will provide only a marginal or moderate stimulus – but all three Big Bangs will significantly impact the automotive industry.   But, before these Big Bangs reach their full impact, Murphy sees a downturn within the next two years taking U.S. volume down below the 14 million unit level (compared to the miserable 9 million level reached during the Great Recession).  During the Q&A session that followed, Murphy noted that he expects EV penetration in the U.S. to reach 10% by 2025 (slightly more optimistic than Mike Robinet’s prediction).  He also noted his perception that we are not experiencing an auto technology valuation bubble despite the recent eye-popping valuations in this space (no irrational exuberance here!).

On the whole, the panel’s 2018 and beyond outlook is for an automotive supply industry in North America that continues to be good, with significant challenges and disruptors that must be overcome by those automotive suppliers who will flourish in the long term.

This post was written by Steven H. Hilfinger of Foley & Lardner LLP., © 2017

Potential for more Trucking Accidents in California if New Federal Law Passes

A provision that is included in pending legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives may result in fewer truck drivers in California taking needed rest breaks while they are working. The bill would apply to truck drivers who drive into California from other states while exempting them from California’s mandatory rest break requirements. If this bill passes, truck drivers may be more fatigued and cause more accidents in both California and in the rest of the U.S.

The proposed law

A provision that is included in a House appropriations bill would exempt interstate truck drivers who drive into California from following the strict rest and meal break regulations in the state. Under California law, all workers, including truck drivers, must take one 30-minute meal break every five hours and one 10-minute rest break every four hours of work. Some other states, including Kentucky and Colorado, have similar rest and meal break laws on the books. Federal law only requires that truck drivers take one 30-minute break during the first eight hours of driving. Officials in California are concerned that reducing the amount of time that drivers spend resting may result in increased injury and accident rates in the state.

According to the Truck Safety Coalition, the legislators are attempting to preempt state labor laws that mandate additional meal and rest breaks beyond those that are required under federal law. While the law would apply to interstate drivers who drive into the state, some experts are also concerned that drivers who only drive within the state but who work for interstate trucking companies may fall into a legal loophole. They believe that their companies would likely pressure the drivers to only take the minimally required breaks under federal law instead of following the state’s requirements. The provision was introduced by two California Republicans, including Rep. David Valadao and Rep. Jeff Denham. Denham has received more than $60,000 in contributions to his campaigns from trucking organizations.

Drowsy driving truck accident statistics

In California, 15,000 large truck crashes happened in 2016. The California Highway Patrol reports that 8,989 of those collisions happened in Los Angeles. Nationally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that 87,000 injury crashes happened in 2015, and 4,311 trucks and buses were involved in fatal accidents. The FMCSA reports that 55 fatal truck accidents in 2015 were caused by drowsy or fatigued truck drivers and another 71 were caused by driver inattention with unknown causes.

If the proposed law passes in the House and Senate and is signed into law by Trump, many truck drivers may not have to take the rest breaks that they currently have to take. Truck drivers drive for exhaustingly long shifts, and not being able to pull off of the road more frequently may lead them to become exhausted. In Dec. 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the crash risk for drivers spikes for every hour of sleep that they lose. Truck drivers who do not get sufficient sleep and who are also not able to take enough rest breaks may have greatly increased risks. For all drivers, AAA found that the risk of accidents doubles for people who get between five and six hours of sleep each night. When they only get four to five hours of sleep, their risks are four times higher of crash involvement than people who are more rested.

Pressures on truck drivers

Truck drivers report that they are under tremendous pressure by their companies to get their loads delivered on time, according to ABC News. When drivers are pressured to make their deliveries under tight deadlines, they may end up driving while they are fatigued. This pressure may compound the potential problems of having fewer rest breaks under the proposed federal law. If that law passes, it is likely that all interstate companies will force their workers to only follow the federal rules rather than pulling off the road more frequently or whenever they feel tired.

Drowsy driving can have serious or even fatal consequences for drivers and those who are traveling on the roads around them. Enacting federal legislation to preempt California’s meal and rest break requirements could lead to many more injuries and deaths in the state each year. Californians may want to lobby their representatives and senators about this provision in order to protect the general safety of everyone in the state.

This post was written by Steven M. Sweat.
For more legal analysis go to the National Law Review.

NAFTA: Mexican Trucking Program

NAFTA Mexican carriers long-haul deliveriesPresident Trump’s plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may also impact a controversial program that allows Mexican carriers to make long-haul deliveries in the U.S.

As part of the NAFTA agreement, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to allow trucks from each country to carry goods across the border for deliveries anywhere inside each of their respective countries, but the program faced challenges from the get-go.  In 2007, the George W. Bush Administration launched a trial program to expand Mexico’s trucking operations beyond the border. However, the program ended in 2009 after Congress defunded the program following pressure from labor unions.

Following retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico, the Obama Administration established a new pilot program in 2011 that would allow long-haul operations in the United States by Mexican drivers, beyond the 25-mile “buffer zone” that allows U.S. truckers to transfer and begin transport of merchandise further into U.S. territory.   U.S. labor unions objected but failed in their legal challenges against the program, and it was made permanent in January 2015.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, together with other groups, sued the Department of Transportation in 2015 over a report that they argued was not based on sufficient data to allow for these long-haul deliveries.  The program remains in effect while that case is still pending.

Safety has been one of the biggest concerns raised by critics of the program.  However, a 2014 Congressional Research Service report suggests safety likely has less to do with whether the truck originates in the U.S. or Mexico, and more to do with the type of truck being used:

Drayage carriers, whose trucks make short-haul movements and spend much time idling while awaiting customs processing, tend to use older equipment. Long-haul trucks tend to carry relatively high-value goods or temperature-controlled cargo, because lower-value goods and less time-sensitive goods can be carried over long distances much more economically by rail or water. If shippers are willing to pay a substantial premium over rail or water transport to truck their product long distances, it seems plausible that they would choose a reliable trucker with modern equipment to avoid risk of delay or spoilage.

Opponents of the program are almost certain to call for its repeal as part of any new NAFTA negotiations.  Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), Ranking Member of the House Transportation Committee, opposes the long-haul program and has already said he plans to raise the issue with Trump Administration officials.

© Copyright 2017 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

Senate Commerce Committee to Hold Chao Nomination Hearing; President-Elect Trump Infrastructure Proposal Update; “Drones Over People” Rule Expected Soon

transportation truck Elaine ChaoThe Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Transportation Secretary-designate Elaine Chao. In addition to serving as the Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, she served as Deputy Secretary at US DOT under President George H. W. Bush, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Maritime Administration Deputy Administrator under President Reagan, and a White House Fellow at US DOT under President Reagan. Because of her experience in these positions, Elaine Chao will bring considerable substantive transportation knowledge and experience overseeing large organizations to bear as the Secretary of Transportation. We expect she will enjoy easy confirmation by the Senate.

Elaine Chao will likely be initially tasked with crafting and then moving Trump’s infrastructure proposal through Congress. In response to the Senate’s nominee questionnaire, Ms. Chao identified several issues that she would focus on as Secretary of Transportation. These included (1) effective enforcement of safety measures, strengthening US DOT’s planning and acquisition practices, and considering new technologies in infrastructure; (2) expediting the process of making repairs and building new construction and decreasing regulatory burdens; and (3) striving for equity between urban and rural areas and among modes of transportation.

Ms. Chao’s list of focus areas is so broad as to cover nearly all key functions of the Department of Transportation, so it does not provide significant insight into what her priorities as Secretary would be. However, there are a few issues we believe Ms. Chao will prioritize. These include regulatory reform, Buy America, and private sector innovation, such as support for autonomous vehicles to improve vehicle safety and for public-private partnerships to advance capital project more efficiently.

President-Elect Trump Infrastructure Proposal Update

Throughout the presidential campaign, President-elect Trump advocated for a large infrastructure investment package, however there are few details known about the proposal at this time. Trump initially said he would “at least double” Secretary Clinton’s $275 billion infrastructure proposal, and has at times called for un-named measures to support $1 trillion in infrastructure investment.

During the campaign, Trump associated himself with an infrastructure proposal drafted by Wilbur Ross, his nominee for Commerce Secretary, and Peter Navarro, recently named as the head of a new National Trade Council to advise the President on trade issues. The Ross-Navarro proposal would provide a tax credit to equity investors in infrastructure projects with the aim of attracting greater private investment in such projects and lowering project finance costs. The proposal relies on dynamic scoring to offset the tax expenditure. Revenues gained through tax reform (including one-time funding through deemed repatriation tax on overseas earnings) has been often cited as a viable pay-for for infrastructure funding, and many believe it would be difficult to fund an infrastructure package independent of tax reform legislation.

Because equity investors support a very small fraction of transit and highway projects – those with a dedicated revenue stream to pay back such investment – tax credits for equity investments are viewed by many transportation stakeholders as only a small part of the solution to our infrastructure investment gap. Stakeholders and even some Members of Congress have made clear that any infrastructure package must include grant funding in addition to finance tools.

Trump’s selection of anti-spending crusader Rep. Rick Mulvaney (R-SC) as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget appears to signal strong fiscal discipline by the next President – in any future infrastructure spending and across the Federal budget – so few expect Trump to propose a large stimulus-style spending bill like the one Congress and President Obama adopted in 2009. House and Senate Republican leaders have publicly stated there must be responsible methods of paying for any infrastructure spending.

With reauthorization of the FAST Act still a few years away, Trump’s still-developing proposal is likely to be seen by many transportation stakeholders as the best opportunity to advance their particular interests. While both Congress and the Trump Administration may have little appetite to take on difficult issues in what Trump has billed as a much-needed investment in America’s infrastructure and economy, some straightforward provisions are likely to travel on this bill. On a broader scale, any infrastructure package could also be an opportunity to secure a long-term revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). By the end of the FAST Act in 2020, HTF revenues will support only 55 percent of authorized spending from the HTF. So many transportation stakeholders view Trump’s large infrastructure investment bill as a well-suited vehicle to address this funding shortfall before the end of 2020. However, the Trust Fund’s systemic revenue shortfall has not become any easier to solve, due to: the growing size of the shortfall; bipartisan objections to raising the federal fuels tax; and little support for scaling back popular infrastructure programs.

While the President-elect prioritized infrastructure investment in his campaign, there are a number of potential impediments to successfully advancing a large infrastructure package. Congressional Republicans have recently identified reform of the Affordable Care Act, tax reform, and regulatory reform as the first proposals they will advance in the 115th Congress – not Trump’s transportation plan.

Another potential impediment is that an infrastructure package is simply not a must-pass bill: the FAST Act is in place until 2020. In 2017, the transportation committees in Congress will be focused on an upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization deadline. The current FAA extension expires September 30, 2017, and reauthorizing aviation programs will likely be a priority for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA).

One Congressional effort that would build support for infrastructure spending is the return of earmarks. The House is likely to vote on a bill early in 2017 that would reestablish earmarks. In the past, infrastructure bills often enjoyed enormous bipartisan support because many Members were able to secure direct funding for projects in their district or State through earmarking. At this time, it is unclear if earmark supporters have the votes to overturn the earmark ban.

Regulatory Activity

“Drones Over People” Rule Expected Soon

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to work on a proposed rule allowing the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over people, and has been expected to release the proposed rule before the end of the Obama Administration on January 20, 2017. The proposed “drones over people” rule will significantly expand allowable UAS operations, likely allowing the operation of UAS over individuals that are not directly involved in the operation of the UAS. After the “drones over people” rule is issued, FAA will focus on drafting a propose rule allowing beyond visual-line-of-sight operations. These newly proposed rules follow the final rule on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which went into effect on August 29, 2016.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, January 11, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing on the expected nomination of Ms. Elaine Chao to be Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation.

  • On Wednesday, January 11, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing on the expected nomination of General John Kelly to be Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

  • On Thursday, January 12, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing on the expected nomination of Mr. Wilbur Ross to be Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce.

© Copyright 2017 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

Obama Administration Announces Plan to Promote Electric Vehicles

Electric VehiclesIn late July, the Obama administration announced a collaboration with 50 federal and state agencies, electric utility companies, vehicle manufacturers, electric charging station companies, and others in the private sector to promote faster development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and increased numbers of electric cars on the roads.

This announcement, made in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Air Force and Army, comes just after the DOE’s first-ever Sustainable Transportation Summit. To learn more about the collaboration, continue reading!

This collaboration aims to promote consumer adoption of electric vehicles and increase the accessibility of charging infrastructure across the country. Major goals include:

  • Guaranteeing $4.5 billion in loans to finance a national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure to increase consumer access;

  • Utilizing funds from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation(FAST) Act, signed into law by Obama in December 2015, to identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors and developing a 2020 vision for the optimal placement of fast charging infrastructure; and

  • Encouraging state, county, and municipal governments to partner with the Federal government to procure subsidized electric vehicle fleets.

Additionally, the collaboration has agreed to a set of Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure to encourage market growth and spur adoption of electric vehicles by developing vehicles and charging infrastructure that are accessible, affordable, reliable and convenient for consumers.

The market for electric vehicles has grown significantly in recent years, with battery costs falling 70%, more than 20 plug-in electric vehicle models now on the market, and more than 16,000 charging stations deployed – up from fewer than 500 in 2008.

©1994-2016 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

Lawmakers Continue Focus on TSA Wait Times, While House Spending Panel Approves TSA Funding for FY 2017; Government Officials React to Deadliest Shooting in US History, Worst Terror Attack Since 9/11

TSA wait linesLawmakers Continue Focus on TSA Wait Times, While House Spending Panel Approves TSA Funding for FY 2017

The House Appropriations Committee approved it draft FY 2017 homeland security appropriations measure on Thursday, June 9, including $7.6 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), $163 million more than in FY 2016 and $21.8 million greater than the Obama Administration’s FY 2017 budget request.  The House Appropriations Committee has yet to approve a request from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an additional $28 million to help keep airport security lines under control during the ongoing summer travel season.  The Senate Appropriations Committee, which has already approved of its FY 2017 homeland security spending measure increasing funds for TSA, has also signed off on the reallocated funds, the second such request from DHS this year.

On June 7, the House of Representatives approved legislation, the Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016 (H.R. 5338), aimed at shortening TSA wait times.  The measure would direct both the TSA Administrator and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review TSA’s staffing allocation model.  The Act also requires the TSA Administrator to take a number of actions related to the agency’s staffing and resource allocation.  Across the Capitol, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger testified before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing last week, where lawmakers encouraged the agency to increase access to PreCheck, an expedited security screening program.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, June 14: The House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security will hold a hearing titled “Overstaying Their Welcome: National Security Risks Posed by Visa Overstays.”

  • Wednesday, June 15: The Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “America’s Insatiable Demand for Drugs: Examining Alternative Approaches.”

  • Thursday, June 16: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a meeting to consider pending legislation and nominations.

Executive Branch Activity

Government Officials React to Deadliest Shooting in US History, Worst Terror Attack Since 9/11

President Barack Obama, senior Administration officials, and lawmakers reacted to the shooting at a crowded Orlando nightclub filled with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  As of Sunday night, the shooting, which ended with police storming the club after a three-hour stand-off, had left 50 dead and at least 53 injured.  Reports indicated the alleged shooter had pledged allegiance to ISIS, making it the United States’ worst terror attack since September 11, 2001, and the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.

President Obama delivered remarks from the White House early in the day, confirming he had met with his homeland security and national security advisors and assuring Americans that he has “directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.”  Congressman Mike McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, offered thoughts and prayers for the victims and thanked local law enforcement for their efforts responding to the attack, calling it “a sobering reminder that radical Islamists are targeting our country and our way of life.” Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, echoed his House colleague, confirming that his committee “will work to support the federal role in investigating this terror attack and protecting against further threats.”  Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson stated that senior agency officials “are dedicated to investigating this tragedy, along with the FBI and our state and local partners, and supporting the Orlando community in the tragedy’s aftermath.”  Secretary Johnson canceled planned travel to Beijing in light of the attack.

© Copyright 2016 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP