Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
- James Clapper, the United States’ director of national intelligence, provided his annual worldwide threat assessment to Congress this week. For the third year in a row, cyber threats are listed as the number one threat to the United States, followed by espionage and terrorism. While the assessment highlighted the usual concerns with respect to China and Russia’s cyber activities, Iran and North Korea were singled out as countries with a demonstrated willingness and capability to conduct destructive cyber activity in pursuit of their interests. Clapper confirmed for the first time that the U.S. intelligence community had attributed the cyber incident that affected the Sands casino in Las Vegas to Iran. It now takes the dubious honor of being the first destructive cyberattack on United States soil away from the Sony incident. As a side note, the Director of National Intelligence will be speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 2, 2015 and you can watch the event here.
- The U.K. government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills criticized Gamma International for failing to abide by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The non-binding guidelines recommend that companies operating in OECD member countries abide by internationally-recognized human rights. Gamma produces the FinFisher and FinSpy suite of software which has been used by authoritarian governments to monitor human rights and anti-government activists.
- Günther Oettinger, the European Commission’s lead on digital economy issues, criticized U.S. technology companies of flouting Europe’s privacy laws. According to the New York Times, the commissioner warned "that international tech companies must do more to comply with the region’s strict data protection rules." The EU, which is currently revising its data protection laws, hopes to promote them as a global standard akin to Europe’s promotion of the GSM standard for cellphones in the 1990s. The review of the privacy laws comes at a time when one out of three Europeans provide false information online to access online services according to Symantec.
- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt net neutrality rules under its Title II authority, which classifies the Internet as a utility. The decision applies to both fixed and wireless connections, bans paid prioritization as well as traffic throttling and blocking, and requires companies to disclose their traffic management policies. Predictably, neutrality advocates, including the President of the United States, hailed the decision as a massive victory whereas telecommunication carriers criticised the decision, with Verizon expressing its discontent by issuing a press release in morse code.