12 May 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.

All round, a somewhat quieter week across the ICT world than the last one. However, as ever, there were a range of stories of interest for IEEE which are explored further below and throughout the monitor.

In Europe, the Privacy Shield agreement between the EU and the US came under further scrutiny this week, with an alliance of data centre providers in Holland coming out against the current draft of the agreement. The Dutch Datacenter Association issued a statement Monday saying Privacy Shield currently offers none of the improvements necessary to better safeguard the privacy of European citizens. The list of nearly 30 association participants includes Equinix and Digital Realty, two of the worlds largest data center providers, as well as European data center sector heavyweights Colt , based in London, and Interxion, a Dutch company headquartered just outside of Amsterdam.

Net neutrality issues also received some coverage with the Chief of Europes digital rights lobby group, Joe McNamee, declaring that the next few months will be a critical time for net neutrality in the EU. He stated that it would be crucial to engage with people across the EU regarding the issue over the course of the next few months. Draft net neutrality guidelines are due to be presented by the European Commission on June 6, followed by a consultation for 20 working days on those proposed rules.

On a cyber-security note, it was reported this week by Reuters that hundreds of millions of hacked user names and passwords for email accounts and other websites are being traded in Russia's criminal underworld. The discovery of 272.3 million stolen accounts included a majority of users of Mail.ru (MAILRq.L), Russia's most popular email service, and smaller fractions of Google (GOOGL.O), Yahoo (YHOO.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) email users. It is reported to be one of the largest stashes of stolen details to be uncovered since huge scale cyber-attacks hit major U.S. banks and retailers two years ago.

Also of interest, it was revealed that the European Unions General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect as of the 25th of May 2018 now that the new rules have been published. The European Parliaments publication of the regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union means it will become law on 25 May 2016, giving organisations 24 months to become compliant. The GDPR has been established in order to introduce new accountability obligations as well as stronger rights and restrictions on international data flows.

In the US this week developments were predominantly centred around the issues of cyber-security and cyber-privacy. However, net neutrality did receive a degree of coverage following the publication of a study by a leading civil rights non-profit group which aimed to explain the benefits of zero-rating for poor and minority consumers. The Multicultural Media,Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), an advocacy organization for poor and minority consumers in communications policy, outlined in a Monday report how zero-rating can influence more consumers in those groups to get online, increasing their access to the digital economy and life-improving services in health and education.

As mentioned, cyber-security headlines somewhat dominated the agenda in the US ICT world this week, and the news of particular note included the announcement that The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for research proposals to develop a system that would enable the government and law enforcement to identify the actual individual behind a cyber-attack. The Enhanced Attribution Program proposal is looking to create the technology that would allow not only the collection of data that could pinpoint the perpetrator, but do so in a way that would not put at risk the sources and methods used to find the person or group.

Also of interest on this theme, The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have asked mobile phone carriers and manufacturers to explain how they release security updates amid mounting concerns over security vulnerabilities, the U.S. agencies said on Monday. The agencies have written to Apple Inc, AT&T Inc and Alphabet Inc, among others, in order "to better understand, and ultimately to improve, the security of mobile devices," the FCC said.

Top on the cyber-privacy agenda was news that a group of nearly 50 organizations and businesses urged leaders in the House and Senate to take swift action on the Open, Permanent, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act (H.R. 5051 / S. 2582) introduced last week. The group wrote that the Open Government Data Act would not only institutionalize the federal government's commitment to open data and keep the U.S. a world leader, it would also ensure that the value of what would be a public resource would continue to grow as the government unlocks and creates new data sets.

A particularly slow week in the world of Asian ICT this time around, but news of interest included the revelation that China has opted to hold back implementation of new regulations passed by the State last month on goods imported from overseas markets using e-commerce platforms. The government has revealed that is now plans to make adjustments to the rules before they are brought in.

On a cyber-security note, it was also reported this week that Taiwan is currently facing an avalanche of cyber-attacks from China. The Taiwanese National Information and Communication Security Center has claimed that the government has the situation under control, however, with millions of attacks registered each year, the scale is one of the largest in the world and reaching a quasi-war.

Somewhat brighter news was the announcement that Lenovo Group Ltd, the world's largest personal computer maker, plans to invest $500 million in a technology start-up fund in Beijing. The fund Lenovo Capital, which will be funded and managed by Lenovo Group, is looking to invest in sectors including artificial intelligence, robot and cloud computing, said the company's senior vice president He Zhiqiang at an event in Beijing.

From a global institutions perspective, the only real news of note this week was the announcement that ICANN and the Regional Technical Commission of Telecommunications (COMTELCA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which they agreed to explore opportunities to collaborate on topics of common interest.