from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: July 3, 2015

Great Hall Net Politics Cyber CFR Adam Segal Xi Jingping

July 3, 2015

Great Hall Net Politics Cyber CFR Adam Segal Xi Jingping
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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

  • China finally enshrined its proposed cybersecurity legislation into law this week as part of larger omnibus national security legislation. Since the beginning of the year, China has signalled that it was considering cybersecurity regulations to ensure that hardware and software in the country was "secure and controllable." U.S. companies, backed by the U.S. government, publically expressed their concerns with the proposal, fearing it would require them to hand over encryption keys or source code, and reduce their market share. The United States claimed victory back in April when China said that it was suspending some of its proposed regulations for the banking sector, though the celebration may have been premature. According to the New York Times, the new legislation establishes a "national security review" process for the tech industry and requires that technology in undefined critical industry sectors be "secure and controllable." While these measures aren’t necessarily unique to China, the new law is sure to prompt a new round of U.S. lobbying, and could require the involvement of the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement process.
  • The Iraqi government seems to have cut off the country’s access to the Internet for about three hours this week to prevent cheating on a national school exam. In Iraq, students must take national exams in order to gain entry into junior high school and students are under considerable pressure to pass the test. This is not the first time that the Iraqi government has cut off Internet access, though it’s probably the first instance where it was cut to thwart exam cheats. Last year, it severed its Internet links to prevent members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State from communicating. Internet shutdowns of this nature beg larger questions about the potential for governments to control the Internet and dictate the online activities of citizens without notice. The Egyptian government famously took the country off the Internet in 2011 following the protests against the Mubarak regime.
  • Kenya’s Communications Authority introduced new regulations this week that will mandate that users of public Wi-Fi register their devices with the Kenya Network Information Center (KENIC). The Authority argues that the measure is required to combat cybercrime, though it’s possible that it could also be used to monitor dissent. Kenya joins other countries like China, which already requires users to register at Internet cafes using their real names, and South Korea, which requires users to use their national IDs to identify themselves on forums and comment boards. As part of the regulations, Kenyan businesses will also be required to host websites in the country according to Kenya’s Daily Nation.
  • In case you missed it, the New York Times has a great exposé on online platforms’ privacy policies. Despite promises that user data will never be shared with anyone, turns out that the fine print in their terms of use and privacy policies says they’ll sell it if they go under and need to pay creditors.
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