10 December 2015

In Europe this week, internet governance featured prominently with the European Commissions announcement of a new proposal for the European copyright framework. Specifically, the new framework is geared towards enabling residents of the EU to access legal digital content whilst traveling outside the country they live in.

Also of significance on a Pan-European level this week, EU lawmakers and member states struck a deal on the bloc's first broad cyber-security law to affect multiple industry sectors. The provisionally agreed legislation will dictate that companies operating in multiple key sectors will have to ensure that the digital infrastructure that they use is sufficiently secure to withstand online attacks. Similarly, major digital marketplaces, search engines, and cloud services will be required to ensure that their infrastructure is robust, and to report major breaches if/when they occur. Under the framework smaller digital companies are due to be exempt from these requirements. 

In the US, cyber privacy issues came to the fore, with US president Barack Obama hinting at the possibility of adopting a stronger stance against encryption laws. Whilst addressing the nation in response to the San Bernadino tragedy, President Obama stated he would urge high-tech leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.

Cyber-security developments witnessed an announcement from the US Defence Department that the organisation is seeking industry advice and support as it seeks to embark on a modernisation programme related to its Global Command and Control System. In addition to this, another cyber-security update of note was the delay experienced by the US administration as it seeks to implement legislation geared towards thwarting hack attacks. Lawmakers have continued to clash over how best to protect Americans personal information with a final compromise on the legislation taking longer than expected amid disagreements over privacy provisions. 

Finally, issues of net neutrality received wide coverage, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in court again this week to defend the controversial net neutrality regulations it introduced in June this year. This is now the third occasion on which the agency has been required to defend rules it has developed.

In Asia, China came under pressure to defend its internet governance regulations this week ahead of the Inaugural World Internet Conference organised by the state. This week, in the build up to the Conference, China's cyber chief rejected criticism that the country's Internet was overly censored, arguing instead that maintained order was a means to online freedom. This year, the Chinese government is upping the scale of the event, to be held from Dec. 16-18, which will include a speech by President Xi Jinping and be attended by prime ministers from Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

From a cyber-security perspective it was reported this week that cyber-attacks are becoming an increasing concern for Asean countries, with businesses and governments in Southeast Asia increasingly likely to be a target for cyber criminals, according to a report from security supplier FireEye and Singapore-headquartered telco Singtel. On a similar note, it was also reported that online cyber security breaches in China have skyrocketed more than 500% in the previous 12 months according to the recently published PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Global State of Information Security Survey 2016. The report detailed that the average financial loss incurred by China as a result of such cyber-crime rose by 10%, in stark contrast to the rest of the world, which witnessed a 5% drop in financial losses due to cyber-crimes.

Elsewhere, it was announced that an international operation involving Europol, Interpol, the US department of homeland security, the US National Cyber Investigative Joint Taskforce, the FBI, Microsoft and other private sector organisations has targeted the Dorkbot botnet. The ambition has been to disrupt the Dorkbot infrastructure, including command and control servers in Asia, Europe, and North America, including the seizure of domains.

Furthermore, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) urged global stakeholders this week to acknowledge that cyber security standards must be globally accepted, industry led and recognized by the broadest community possible. The statement was made during a session on cyber security and digital trust at the Internet governance forum (IGF) in João Pessoa, Brazil. 

Finally, the US EU Cyber Dialogue meeting which took place this week witnessed a commitment from both bodies to continue working in collaboration on cyber security and internet governance issues amongst other things. Of particular note was the announcement of a pledge to continue implementing the NETmundial roadmap on multi-stakeholder Internet governance.