Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
1. The IANA transition is approved! The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, approved the proposal to transition the U.S. government’s stewardship role over the domain name system to the multistakeholder internet community. The NTIA determined that the plan meets the criteria that it set out when it announced its intent to relinquish its oversight over some of the internet’s technical infrastructure, namely that it supports the multistakeholder model, maintains the stability of the domain name system, and does not replace U.S. government oversight with UN or multilateral institution oversight. Absent any last minute Cruz missiles to blow up the plan, the multistakeholder internet community will take control of the IANA functions in September. If you want any more information on why the transition plan is important, check out Net Politics’ Rob Knake post.
2. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defends not encrypting evidence collected in the Playpen case. The FBI‘s investigation into Playpen—a child porn website—is revealing interesting information about its use of network investigative techniques (NIT) to monitor suspects’ online activities. The FBI installed malware on the Playpen website to identify its users, and relayed that information in an unencrypted format to FBI servers. In sworn testimony, the Bureau justified the practice by emphasizing that it was the only way defendants could confirm that the data collected fell within the scope of its search warrant. Critics were not convinced. American Civil Liberties Union Principal Technologist Chris Soghoian compared the absence of encryption to the FBI collecting evidence and putting it in a ziploc bag, instead of "a signed, sealed evidence bag." This case comes at a time where some are suggesting that the FBI rely more on NITs—also known as “lawful hacking”—as a potential solution to law enforcement’s concern that greater use of encryption will hinder its ability to investigate crimes.
3. UK House of Commons passes “Snooper’s Charter” after concessions. Last Tuesday, the UK House of Commons passed the Investigative Powers Bill by a landslide 444-69. The bill would expand law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ bulk data collection and retention capacities. Dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter”, it has been criticized as a legalization of the Government Communication’s Headquarters’ (GCHQ) covert surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. The bill earned the Labour Party’s crucial support following Home Secretary Theresa May’s concessions on the protection of journalists, surveillance of MPs, and exceptional use of bulk personal datasets. The scope of the bill has also opened the door to questions concerning encryption backdoors and the role of tech corporations in protecting privacy and assisting the government. Having passed the House of Commons, the draft bill will now go to the House of Lords for further debate.
4. Obama and Modi commit to plans for an open internet. President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met at the White House on Tuesday to discuss near-term bilateral initiatives for an open and interoperable cyberspace. Their framework agreement is in line with a continued effort by the two countries to enhance cybersecurity cooperation. The new framework seeks to “promote cooperation between law enforcement agencies to combat cybercrime including through training workshops, enhancing dialogue and processes and procedures," and will rely on “Sharing information on a real time or near real time basis, when practical and consistent with existing bilateral arrangements.”