Keypoint: Colorado policymakers outlined their privacy and AI priorities at a recent Husch Blackwell event.

In early March, Husch Blackwell hosted a discussion panel covering the 2024 legislative priorities of Colorado policymakers related to privacy and artificial intelligence. Attendees heard from Director of Legislative Affairs and Colorado Assistant Attorney General Jefferey Riester, as well as Colorado State Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez. Discussions centered around their legislative priorities related to privacy and artificial intelligence, including the Colorado Privacy Act, SB 41 (children’s privacy), HB 1058 (biological data), and other impending bills on artificial intelligence.

The below article provides a summary of their remarks.

Senator Rodriguez was elected to the Colorado State Senate just months after California enacted its California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). While the passage of the CCPA was a watershed moment in establishing the first state consumer data privacy act, policymakers like Senator Rodriguez acknowledged that it had some concerning provisions and he did not view it as a model privacy bill. He stated that he wanted to, in the simplest fashion, “ensure that consumers reserved the right to know what data was being collected, and what data companies had on file.” Ruling out the CCPA as too complicated and the Nevada’s existing online privacy law as too lenient, he began modeling the Colorado Privacy Act (CPA) after the developing Washington Privacy Act, viewing it as the most balanced bill. Ultimately, Senator Rodriguez found data privacy to be a bipartisan issue, and noted that Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser was very engaged and supportive.

More recently, Senator Rodriguez introduced SB 41, which seeks to amend the CPA and add children’s privacy protection provisions. This bill is modeled on Connecticut’s SB3, which passed in June 2023. Unlike other bills in the children’s privacy space, SB3 created additional obligations for entities processing the data of minors over the age of 13. Senator Rodriguez took this principle and co-authored SB 41 to specify that minors between the ages of 13 and 17 must be able to consent (i.e., opt-in) themselves to share their personal data.

Additionally, Senator Rodriguez was questioned at the panel on the advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). He applauded the progress made on Connecticut SB2 to regulate AI, but stated that one bill is not going to be enough. Senator Rodriguez highlighted that “generative AI is a lot to take on, but it’s important to get discussions on its accountability forming sooner rather than later, which is a mistake we made when regulating social media.” He proceeded to stress the need for companies to review their technology and address its biases. “As it advances, we need to make controls and build a chassis on this technology to ensure that it is held accountable,” he went on.

When it comes to navigating the complexity of drafting AI bills, Senator Rodriguez said “All of this technology is developing extremely fast, it’s scary and we need to be conscious about it.” The recent advancements in AI technology like Chat GPT have captivated the public, but have also sounded the alarm for policymakers who worry how this will be used in decisions that can impact people’s livelihoods, such as job applications. He warned of AI being used as a shortcut by companies in various different areas, and that these must be closed off by enacting bills at the federal level.

Jefferey Riester also gave input on the future of the AI law-making process. He highlighted the use of AI in elections, specifically the issue of deepfake videos in elections. He explained how AI has been used to create fraudulent videos of candidates running for office, even ones who have dropped out of the election. Some of these deepfake videos are so realistic that the average individual cannot tell that they are doctored. Riester stated that “we need to make sure this technology is clearly disclosed and cannot be used to interfere with the outcome of an election.” Along with collaboration with fellow policymakers, Riester said he has seen significant participation from labor unions in taking a stance against the use of AI deepfakes in elections.

Riester was also asked about the motivation behind HB 1058. This bill, introduced by Representative Cathy Kipp, would add biological and neural data to the CPA’s definition of sensitive data. Riester and the Attorney General’s Office have been very engaged in the drafting of this bill. According to Riester, providing a clear-cut picture of what neural data would encompass was initially a challenge. He and other policymakers looked to Chile, which is the only country to have a federal law covering such data. They were able to establish that neural data would encompass brain scans, data collected from microchip implants, and any other new technology that can survey someone’s brain. While Chile is the worldwide leader in protecting neurological data, Riester mentioned that this would position Colorado as nationwide leader in this space.