Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
- Despite low expectations, it seems that the United States and China have agreed to develop a code of conduct for cyberspace at this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). The agreement, while not part of the official 127 outcomes of the talks, may be one of the few positive developments between both countries in an otherwise tense relationship on cyber issues. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that the dialogue was “without accusations, without any finger-pointing,” but also made clear that the U.S. remains concerned about cyber incursions from China. You can find more of my analysis of the talks here.
- The Internet community is now hoping to take over stewardship of the critical IANA functions that keep the Internet running from the U.S. government by the end of June 2016. Longtime readers will know that the United States announced its intent in March 2014 to relinquish its stewardship role over the Internet. The U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the the transition process, originally hoped it would occur in September 2015, but as the Internet community mobilized by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers developed a transition proposal, that deadline seemed overly optimistic. The new June 2016 date also takes into account an anticipated congressional review of the final transition plan, a requirement of the new DOTCOM Act, which sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives and is expected to be approved by the Senate. Internet governance observers were originally concerned that congressional action could possibly derail the transition process, but according to Matthew Shears at the Center for Democracy and Technology, those concerns were assuaged thanks to amendments made to the bill.
- The Australian Parliament adopted a bill that would allow rights holders to petition a federal court judge to block access to websites that have the “primary purpose” of facilitating copyright infringement. In theory, the measure is aimed at stemming the availability of pirated materials in Australia though in practice the experience of other jurisdictions shows that website filtering is ineffective. A U.S. study of the UK’s blocking of the Pirate Bay prompted people to visit other websites where they could get infringing content or use technical measures, such as proxies or virtual private networks, to circumvent the block. Critics of the Australian legislation feared that vague language in the bill would allow the federal court to block proxy and VPN services as well. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the critics, noting that the legislation was aimed at infringing websites, not the means by which they are accessed.