03 December 2015

This week global coverage of the IT sector broadened away from a previously heavy focus on cyber-security, which had been dominating headlines in recent weeks following the events in Europe.

From a European perspective, Internet Governance featured heavily with The European Commission announcing it will be considering a comprehensive plan to support the ‘Internet of Things’ by mid-2016.

Also on a Pan-European level, it has been announced that Europe's police agency, Europol, is getting new powers to combat terrorism, cyber-crime and other cross-border threats following the Paris attacks in November.

Other big news this week, was the announcement that Google has received 348,085 'forget' requests in Europe following a European court ruling that people have a right to be forgotten online. It has since emerged that Google complied with less than half of the requests, citing that decision making was based on a criteria intended to balance privacy with the right of public knowledge.

In the US, cyber security related developments took precedence, with the major announcement being that US and Chinese officials have begun talks aimed at improving cooperation on commercial cyber espionage investigations. It represents the first official cybersecurity dialogue between the two nations in almost two years.

In what has proved to be a challenging week for Google, a prominent US privacy group. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, has lodged a complaint against the company with the Federal Trade Commission. This followed accusations of Google collecting and using the personal information of students in the US contrary to a pledge it reluctantly signed earlier this year.

Linked to this, the debate between the US Government and major technology companies surrounding privacy and encryption rumbled on this week. In the latest developments, during a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee on Email Privacy Act, Google along with tech and legal advocates voiced support for the Email Privacy Act and expressed opposition to the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) request for exemption from the bill. In contrast to this stance, the privacy bill amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is supported by more than 300 members of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, in Asia, the APrIGF Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) announced it is calling upon the ICT community to contribute to the programme development of APrIGF 2016 Taipei. This engenders an opportunity for 3I to engage with the body, to discuss and shape a range of issues, one of which is Internet Governance regulation. Following on the theme of Internet Governance, Taiwan and the United States held their first ‘digital economy forum’, during which officials from both sides met to discuss policies regarding digital trade and the establishment of regulatory environments to enable digital development.

Finally, in cyber-security related updates it was announced this week that China has arrested the suspected OPM hackers, those accused of breaking into the United States Office of Personnel Management databases. The move was meant as a show of good faith ahead of increased dialogue between the two states on issues of cyber-security and espionage.

Elsewhere, sizeable developments included the publication of the ITU’s flagship annual ‘Measuring the Information Society Report’ for 2015. The report, released on the 30th of November gives an overview of global information society developments. Another story of note is the publication of a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies which accuses the global policy community of being slow to appreciate the strategic implications of cyber space. The ‘Evolution of the cyber domain: The implications for national and global security’ says the cyber domain needs to be better understood and the subject of greater strategic focus.