2 March 2016

The following is summary of the most recent IEEE Global Internet Governance Monitor report. To access and download the full report containing additional details and other news items, click here.

This week saw a flurry of activity in the ICT world, with the predominant focus applied to cyber-security and cyber-privacy issues.

Amongst the range of developments, there were multiple announcements which may be of direct interest to IEEE. These are explored further in the engagement opportunities section further below.

In Europe, Internet governance featured heavily, with the news of upmost prominence revealing that the European Commission is currently racing to rubberstamp the recently agreed privacy shield arrangement with the US. The Privacy Shield agreement will replace the now infamous Safe Harbour deal, which was toppled by the European Court of Justice last October on grounds that surveillance agencies have broad access to EU citizens data once its transferred to the US. The end of June is the supposed target date for ratification of the agreement, with commission officials declaring they hope the agreement worth nearly $300 billion in trade commerce gets the green light from a committee of member states representatives during the Dutch Council presidency, which runs until the end of June.

Linked to this, the privacy principles underlining the aforementioned EU-US privacy shield were published this week. Amongst other things, the principles outline that any businesses signing up to the new privacy framework will need to engage with a new system of dispute resolution, including a new 45 day timeframe for responding to complaints about their data handling.

Other news of note from the European ICT sector included the announcement that Google is set to train up to two million people in digital skills this year across Europe. Last February (2015) the search engine giant pledged to train one million Europeans in crucial digital skills as it promised to invest an additional 25 million to broaden its training programme across the continent, which included plans to build a Europe-wide hub to support small businesses. The company said it now plans to double its outreach programme due to its popularity.

In the US, developments were dominated by issues related to net neutrality, cyber-security and cyber-privacy.

In net neutrality terms, issues flared up as a year on from the Federal Communications Commission approval of landmark internet rules, critics are pushing forwards to have the courts or Congress curb or strike down the rules entirely. This in spite of opposition from the regulators, who continue to push forwards with the rules, seeking to develop new standards for application. The issue has even received coverage during the ongoing US election, with Republican presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz having decided to join six other Senators in pushing forwards the new Restoring Internet Freedom Act which would dismantle the rules, change the FCCs Title II reclassification of ISPs as common carriers, and prevent the FCC from trying to pass net neutrality rules in the future.

Cyber-security and cyber-privacy issues in the US this week merged, with the boundaries between encryption, privacy and security blurred by the ongoing saga between Apple and the US government.

One cyber-security development of particular importance from this week was the testimony given by the US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter, who appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to detail the US Governments cyber-security investment programme. He told the Committee that his department's request for $582.7 billion for fiscal 2017 puts a priority on funding the nation's cyber strategy.

Carter said in his testimony that the budget invests a total of $6.7 billion in fiscal 2017 and $34.6 billion over the FYDP (Future Years Defense Program) . He went on to say the budget includes $336 million over the FYDP to support more capable network perimeter defenses, as well as $378 million to train and strengthen Department of Defense's (DoD) Cyber Protection Teams to respond to security breaches. He also outlined that an additional $347 million will be invested over the FYDP to help provide cyber tools and support infrastructure for the Cyber Mission Force and U.S. Cyber Command.

Rather predictably, much of the ICT coverage from the US this week focused on the issues at play in the showdown between Apple and the US government regarding encryption. Of primary significance, a New York judge this week ruled in favor of apple in the case of the FBI attempting to force the tech giant to unlock the iPhone of a suspected drug trafficker. It was suggested this may set a precedent for the debate surrounding the San Bernardino case, which is due to progress further when Apple and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation make their cases before a congressional panel due to be held on Tuesday. This centering on a court order to force the technology company to give the FBI data from the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. A parallel can be drawn here between this situation, and the debates encircling it, and the UK Governments work on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill which was published in earnest this week.

From a pan-Asian perspective, cyber-security also featured highly on the agenda, with news of note from this week being that Japans technology industry is continuing to build cyber-security muscle. This has developed in response to the increasing threats Japan now faces, with the state being ever further targeted by email viruses and ransomware attacks which threaten to harm critical infrastructure and key commercial organisations. On the cyber-security note more generally, it was reported this week that the Cyber Five nations -- South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore -- appear nine times more vulnerable to cyberattack than other Asian economies, according to the 2016 Asia-Pacific Defense Outlook released by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) .The study noted that these nations are the most heavily dependent on Internet-based interactions.

Also of interest from the Asian ICT sector this week, the news that a record-breaking filibuster by South Korean opposition members of parliament has entered its seventh day. The opposition party to the Government is determined to block a vote on a government-backed anti-terrorism bill which they argue threatens personal freedoms. The proposed legislation allows the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to collect a wide range of personal information - including phone records - on anyone deemed to pose a security risk.

A plethora of developments of interest from the rest of the ICT world and Global institutions this week. The news of primary importance included the publication of the Alliance for Affordable Internets 2015-2016 Affordability Report; the announcement that a final transition plan for the top level of the internet away from the US to ICANN will be published next month and finally, the launch of Googles Project Shield DDos mitigation service, which aims to preserve free speech by protecting news, human rights and election monitoring sites around the world.