E.P.A. Decides Against Limiting Perchlorate in Drinking Water

On March 31st, the Biden Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency announced it would uphold the Trump Administration’s decision to not impose limits of perchlorate in drinking water. Perchlorate is a contaminant which has been linked to brain damage in infants but has not appeared in drinking waters “at levels of public health concern,” according to the Trump administration and now the Biden Administration. Though it has not committed to explicit limits on the compound, the EPA said it would clean up contaminated sites of perchlorate. The decision has been met with controversy, with many in the community referring to it as ‘unscientific.’ Bill Romanelli, spokesman for the Perchlorate Information Bureau, however, said that the decision was based on the “best scientific information” available. According to Erik D. Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council, litigation against the E.P.A. will continue with the goal of implementing standards for perchlorate.  

Four U.S. Senators Cite Microsoft-Activision Deal Concern in FTC Letter

Over one of the more widely publicized antitrust cases of the year, four Senators have sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding their concern over Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision. In their letter, Senators Warren, Booker, Sanders, and Whitehouse primarily discuss the impact that the merger could have on the respective companies’ workers. FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan will scrutinize the deal for signs that it will substantially affect competition in the industry. Activision denies allegations that the proposed merger would interfere with its’ workers efforts to achieve better working conditions. Activision has been the center of recent controversy regarding employee treatment, and on March 30th the company settled with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding allegations of sexual harassment within the corporation.

DeWine, law enforcement leaders announce new criminal justice initiative to fight gun violence

In an effort to push back against the recent spike of violent crime in the state, the Ohio state legislature has awarded the state Bureau of Investigation and State Highway Patrol $10.5 million for National Integrated Ballistic Information Network units. Essentially, state law enforcement will be provided greater opportunity to engage in ballistic testing, which should allow them to match bullet casings to the guns from which they were fired. If the scientists find a match, local law enforcement will be allowed to use that data as an investigative lead. State officials hope the measure will curb violent crime in Ohio, with Governor DeWine stating that they “must do more to hold accountable the small number of…criminals…who are responsible for the most… gun violence.”

Colorado Supreme Court strikes down part of state’s cyberbullying law as unconstitutional

On March 28th, the Colorado State Supreme Court struck down part of the state’s seven-year-old cyberbullying statute, holding that it violates the First Amendment. In his opinion, Justice William Hood wrote that the law, as written, could criminalize constitutionally protected speech like negative restaurant reviews and commentary on public health protocols. The statute originally prohibited communication that “threatens bodily injury or bodily damage, is obscene, or is intended to harass.” The court struck down only the phrase “intended to harass” as unconstitutional. Republican members of the state legislature have expressed concerns regarding the constitutionality of the statute as it was originally passed, and Democratic State Senator Linda Newell added that “it’s hard to thread the needle [of the First Amendment] without getting pricked.”

Some Russian oligarchs are using U.K. data privacy law to sue

United Kingdom data privacy laws, which historically have been used to prevent overly targeted online ads, are now being utilized by Russian oligarchs to protect their online reputations. The decidedly pro-plaintiff argument which has been successful in the past is that journalists are “data collectors” with respect to the information they receive over the course of publishing stories, and thus fall under the purview of the law. The law requires that publishers take steps to ensure the accuracy of received information, even before publishing it. In other words, it has been used as a pre-publication libel law. Now, the statute is being utilized against U.S. journalist Scott Stedman, in a case which Gibson and Dunn attorney Anne Champion claims implicates the First Amendment and general values of free speech in the United States.