from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: August 4, 2017

An Apple store in Beijing. Thomas Peter/Reuters

This week: Apple in China, reforming the way law enforcement accesses data, and blogging regulations in Russia.

August 4, 2017

An Apple store in Beijing. Thomas Peter/Reuters
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Civil Liberties

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Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

1. Shame! Shame! Shame! After removing virtual private networks (VPNs) apps from the Chinese App Store, Apple was on the receiving end of public backlash. In the United States, Apple has built up a reputation of pushing back against what it perceives as over-broad government demands, like the one to unlock an iPhone for the FBI in the San Bernardino case. In China, however, Apple has been much more compliant with the Communist Party's requests. Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the move, arguing that “a renewed effort to enforce” a policy requiring government licenses to operate VPNs was the primary factor in Apple’s recent decision, and that Apple complies with the law in every market in which it operates. Critics argue that Apple's “hunger for revenue” in its largest foreign market better explains its decision to comply. U.S. technology companies have a history of complying with China’s censorship requests fearing that not doing so would get them kicked out of the country.

2. Data without borders. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) reintroduced the International Communications Privacy Act--bipartisan legislation designed to improve law enforcement access to border data held outside sovereign borders. Under current law, U.S.-based tech companies are prohibited from complying with foreign government requests to turn over user data, fueling data localization policies and frustrating foreign criminal investigations. The draft legislation, if it were to become law, would make the necessary amendments to streamline foreign law enforcement requests and allow the implementation of a U.S.-UK data access agreement negotiated during the Obama administration.

3. I give up. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s internet regulator, has decided to end its blogger registry on the grounds that it has become inefficient. In 2014, Russia passed a regulation requiring bloggers with an audience of more than 3,000 daily readers to register with Roskomnadzor, which would monitor their blogs for content deemed illegal. The regulation's stated intent was to eliminate anonymous blogging and to curtail libel and defamation, but bloggers believed “the goal [was] to kill off the political blogosphere,” according to Andrei Malgin, a popular anti-Putin blogger.

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