10 August 2016

The following is summary of the most recent IEEE Global Internet Governance Monitor report. To access the full reports containing additional details and other news items, please join the Internet Technology Policy Community on IEEE Collabratec.

The headline issue in digital terms this week is the network malfunction that led Delta Airlines to ground their global aviation fleet for several hours. The company has blamed the issue on a power outage at their corporate headquarters. Planes in the air do not appear to have been affected.

 In European news this week, the EU has hinted that new telecoms laws set to be announced in September will for the first time include internet communications companies such as WhatsApp and Skype. The move would see these companies incorporated into the same laws that regulate traditional telecoms companies and are likely to increase the control of these companies by EU member states.

Elsewhere leading privacy groups across the European Union have come out against the funding of Romania’s facial recognition program by the EU. The funding is offered by the EU as part of a planned surveillance data project.

The government of the Republic of Ireland has this week moved to establish a National Cyber Security Centre to guard the Republic from cyber attacks. The decision to create the specialist independent body follows recent high profile cyber attacks in Europe and across the globe.

In the USA there were a series of stories focused upon the security of digital voting machines. Following a report by a group of Princeton Professors asserting that some machines are less secure than iPhones, the Department of Homeland Security has looked to classify the machines as important infrastructure. If DHS is successful in securing this reclassification it will place electoral machines under its control, as the USA’s primary protector from cyber attacks.

Congressional Republicans have this week announced their intentions to update the Communications Act in a bid to reassert control over the Federal Communications Commission. The new bid follows the FCC’s new policy on net neutrality which the Republicans have been opposed to.

Also in the news this week, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense has announced its intention to asses the security of patient records in Army hospitals. The probe will audit the Army’s current measures designed to maintain patient privacy according to Carol Gorman, assistant inspector general for readiness and cyber operations.

In major news this week, the Indian telecoms regulator TRAI has hinted that the final proposal on net neutrality will be issued by the end of September.  

There is also news from Thailand where the telecoms regulator NBTC is reportedly pushing for separate sim cards for Thai nationals and foreigners, so that foreigners can be more easily tracked by the government. 

Finally, it has been reported this week that China has hacked several bodies involved in the arbitration around the issue of sovereignty in the South China Sea. The hack is believed to have affected the Philippines’ Justice Department and the organizers of the most recent APEC summit.

In global institutional news this week, ICANN has announced a new consultation into the renewal of the .TEL registry agreement. The organization has also released information on its upcoming stakeholder call set for 18 August.