News & Insights

AGA Working Groups Grapple with Gritty Topics: Cybersecurity, ORC and Cannabis

By: Stephen Cobb

From October 3rd to 5th in Boston, the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) held a series of working group meetings focused on topics uppermost in the minds of state AGs: cybersecurity, organized retail crime (ORC) and cannabis. Following opening remarks by host Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell the meeting kicked off with three sessions and a roundtable on cybersecurity and cryptocurrency.

Cybersecurity: Protecting Critical Infrastructure

The first session, led by Monsurat Ottun of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, discussed strategies for protecting critical infrastructure and sensitive data in order to ensure the resilience of government operations. In her remarks, Ms. Ottun highlighted some of the federal resources available to states and highlighted the need for increased communication and engagement in order to properly address the growing number of cyber threats.

The AGA working sessions continued with a panel discussion moderated by Eleanor Blume, Special AAG at the California DOJ, with panelists from web privacy software solution provider Lokker and nonprofit Space Foundation. This group discussed the ever evolving privacy landscape with a special emphasis on the number of cookies and trackers that are inherent with any online presence. They then explored the transformative impact AI-enabled cybersecurity tools have had in helping prevent threat actors from obtaining access to sensitive information. The cybersecurity working groups wrapped up with a discussion on recent developments on multifactor authentication and an update on threat assessments before laying out a schedule for the working group going forward.

Combatting ORC: New Laws are Needed

A representative from the California DOJ led a discussion on the partnership between the CA AG’s office and retailers helping to address ORC and large scale theft and fraud. This fireside chat provided a detailed look into an evolving area of importance and discussed the need for and prioritization of engagement and data sharing between the private sector and federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. The conversation further stressed the importance of not just allocating resources but, where necessary, making legal changes to address this growing problem. Other topics for the ORC Working Group discussions included a behavioral theory-based approach designed to help educate consumers and protect them against counterfeit goods.  A Michigan State University professor joined this presentation to provide a detailed look at the counterfeit supply chain and the legal and policy issues that accompany the bourgeoning counterfeit markets. Wrapping up these sessions was an analysis of the implications of the new INFORM Consumers Act which took effect in June 2023.

Cannabis: Designing And Implementing State Programs

The sessions of the third working group dedicated to cannabis kicked off with an update by the legal editor of the Cannabis Law Deskbook, AGA’s roadmap for navigating the patchwork of federal, state and local laws governing cannabis and hemp. Panels of experts then discussed various aspects of the design and implementation of state cannabis programs, including how to combat illicit sales, dealing with unregulated and intoxicating hemp products, and state regulatory and private models for reducing the potential environmental impacts of cannabis production.