Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
1. Authoritarian leaders tend to dislike the internet, unless it helps them. The failed coup in Turkey is a prime example of the complicated relationship authoritarian leaders have toward the internet. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been known to chastise Twitter, tried to block internet access in 2013 during the Gezi park protests, admitted to being “increasingly against the internet every day,” and called social media "the worst menace to society." However, had it not been for the internet, it would have been much more difficult for Erdogan to rally his supporters against the coup using FaceTime on CNN Turk. Tweets from official government accounts repeated that message, mobilizing civilians to march through Istanbul and Ankara. Zeynep Tufekci at the New York Times and information security researcher The Grugq explore this contradiction further, and what it means for human rights, the notion of cyber power, and future coup plotters.
3. U.S. government proposes legislative amendments to facilitate foreign access to data held by U.S. tech companies. In February 2016, the Washington Post reported that the United States and the United Kingdom were working on an agreement to streamline the process by which UK law enforcement gains access to data about UK persons stored by tech companies--Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like--in the United States. Such a deal would require legislative changes in the United States, and late last week, the Department of Justice submitted a legislative proposal to the Senate to do just that. In a nutshell, it would allow the Attorney General to enter into executive agreements enabling other countries to go directly to a U.S. service provider to obtain content-related data about one of their nationals without seeking a warrant from a U.S. court. Lawfare’s David Kris seems pretty upbeat about the proposal, whereas Just Security’s Jennifer Granick points out a few flaws. Congress had acted quickly in the past with respect to possible data sharing arrangements with allies (e.g. the swift passage of the Judicial Redress Act to support the Privacy Shield negotiations), so it’s not completely unreasonable to think that it might do so again.
4. The GOP endorses hacking back. The Republican party adopted its platform this week, which noted that “users have a self-defense right to deal with hackers as they see fit,” effectively endorsing the notion of "hacking back." Many in the cybersecurity community are opposed to such initiatives, as it would worsen the already woeful state of online security, make it even harder for law enforcement to attribute cyber activity, and is illegal. Businesses, on the other hand, argue that they need to defend themselves and strike back at adversaries to create a deterrent effect.
5. WhatsApp temporarily blocked in Brazil, again. WhatsApp encountered more trouble in Brazil this week. A judge blocked the messaging service on Tuesday for failing to cooperate in a criminal investigation, only for the Federal Supreme Court to overturn the measure hours later. This is the third time that WhatsApp has been temporarily banned in Brazil since December. Facebook, WhatsApp’s owner, is surely unamused in contrast to Telegram, a competitor, which has seen its usage spike in the country.