from Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program and Net Politics

Cyber Week in Review: July 9, 2020

The logos of TikTok and Facebook are displayed.
The logos of TikTok and Facebook are displayed. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

TikTok leaves Hong Kong as U.S. tech companies announce moratoriums on requests for user data; France says it will not ban Huawei but will encourage 5G telecoms to avoid it; Internal audit finds Facebook policies were “significant setbacks for civil rights;” and Deutsche Telekom faces political pressure from German lawmakers over Huawei relationship.

July 9, 2020

The logos of TikTok and Facebook are displayed.
The logos of TikTok and Facebook are displayed. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

TikTok Leaves Hong Kong as U.S. Tech Companies Announce Moratoriums on Requests for User Data

Following the passage of Hong Kong’s new national security law, Google, Facebook, and Twitter announced temporary moratoriums on responding to the Hong Kong government’s requests for user data on Monday, stating that they had not made a final decision on whether to comply with the new law. Meanwhile, the Chinese-owned platform TikTok went a step further, announcing it would be leaving the Hong Kong market altogether, “in light of recent events.” The Silicon Valley giants are currently faced with difficult choices as they weigh maintaining access to the lucrative Hong Kong market and the risks of undermining internet freedom and human rights and angering U.S. lawmakers. Of particular concern to these companies are new rules released on Monday by the Hong Kong government that give the police the authority to remove internet posts and jail employees at internet companies for not complying with requests for user data. These measures contribute to the view by many China experts that the passage of the new national security law represents the de facto end of Hong Kong’s autonomy from the mainland.

France Says It Will Not Ban Huawei But Will Push 5G Telecoms to Avoid It 

In an interview with newspaper Les Echo, the head of the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI) Guillaume Poupard stated that “there won’t be a total ban from Huawei” for French telecommunication firms but that “for operators that are not currently using Huawei, we are inciting them not to go for it.” The statement was crucial for two of France’s four telecoms, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, as roughly half of their current network was manufactured by the Chinese multinational. “For those that are already using Huawei, we are delivering authorisations for durations that vary between three and eight years,” Poupard said, also adding that operators that did not receive explicit authorization could consider a non-response from the government as a rejection for using Huawei equipment. France appears to be attempting to walk a fine line of backing away from using Chinese 5G technology, which the United States claims could be used for spying by the Chinese government, while trying to avoid Beijing’s ire. “This is not Huawei bashing or anti-Chinese racism,” Poupard emphasized. “All we’re saying is that the risk is not the same with European suppliers as with non-Europeans.”

Internal Audit Finds Facebook Policies Were “Significant Setbacks for Civil Rights”

More on:

Hong Kong

Huawei

Social Media

China

France

On Wednesday, civil rights auditors chosen by Facebook released their final report, saying the company had not done enough to curb discriminatory posts and ads, hate speech, and misinformation on its platform. The culmination of a two-year investigation, the audit [PDF] only adds to Facebook’s current public relations woes a day after it failed to appease civil rights leaders who organized an advertiser boycott against the social network. The report also puts Facebook back in the spotlight as a vehicle for potential election meddling. “Facebook has made policy and enforcement choices that leave our election exposed to interference by the president and others who seek to use misinformation to sow confusion and suppress voting,” the report said. Responding to the audit’s findings, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said, “What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go. As hard as it has been to have our shortcomings exposed by experts, it has undoubtedly been a really important process for our company.”

Deutsche Telekom Faces Political Pressure From German Lawmakers Over Huawei Relationship 

Following a report by German paper Handelsblatt that all of Deutsche Telekom’s future projects included Huawei 5G technology, politicians in Germany’s grand coalition reacted negatively and demanded an explanation from Europe’s largest telecommunications operator. "Telekom needs to clarify, it owes us parliamentarians an explanation," said Social Democrat lawmaker Bernd Westphal, with Conservative lawmaker Thorsten Frei adding, "It would be very problematic if there is indeed a high degree of dependence of Telekom on Huawei in expanding the 5G network." The criticism follows Europe’s increasing aversion to using Huawei gear due to national security concerns and will likely influence Germany’s anticipated new IT Security Law, which could force Deutsche Telekom to decrease its reliance on the Chinese firm. In a statement, Deutsche Telekom said that, "thanks to our multi-vendor strategy, there is no dominant supplier for the entire network" and that it was "moving out Chinese vendors in the mobile communications core network."

More on:

Hong Kong

Huawei

Social Media

China

France

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