SAFETY Act provides significant liability protections for technology firms developing or selling anti-terrorism products.
Four years after the SAFETY Act was enacted to provide limited liability for companies selling anti-terrorism products, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule implementing the Act. Gaining the SAFETY Act’s protections can be an important step for companies offering anti-terrorism technology.
The SAFETY Act was passed by Congress in 2002 as part of a package of legislation designed to help the United States better prepare for the threat of terrorism. The purpose of the Act is to encourage companies to explore and market new technologies to combat terrorism, with the knowledge that their liability will be limited should the technology fail to prevent injuries resulting from an act of terrorism. This “encouragement” comes in the form of unprecedented liability limitations, including a higher threshold to be met before liability will attach, a prohibition on certain types of lawsuit damages, and a ceiling on the amount of potential liability the company faces.
Virtually any company seeking to sell anti-terrorism products or services can apply for SAFETY Act protections, whether large or small, domestic or foreign. Companies such as Boeing, Pitney Bowes, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and IBM have already applied and been approved for some level of SAFETY Act protection.
Companies wishing to avail themselves of the SAFETY Act’s benefits must apply to the Department of Homeland Security. The recently issued final rule and application kit are expected to clarify and streamline what has been a challenging application process. The final rule also establishes special approvals for early stage technology, allowing some liability protections to be provided even during a technology's testing stages.
The benefits of the SAFETY Act protections for technology companies looking to work in the homeland security area are quite tangible. Not only will the recipients enjoy the significant liability limitations, but they may also receive the benefit that comes from being able to tell customers and integrators -- some of whom are requiring their contractors to have this protection -- that they have earned this type of approval from the Department. If you have questions regarding the SAFETY Act, please contact Jennifer Ranji of WolfBlock Public Strategies at 202-789-4040. WolfBlock Public Strategies represented one of the first foreign companies to receive SAFETY Act protections.