Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
- China is considering draft counterterrorism legislation that would require companies build lawful interception capabilities into their products, often referred to as "backdoors," and turn over encryption keys to Chinese authorities upon request. President Obama publically criticized the move, arguing that it would hurt China’s economy as companies would be reluctant to remain in a market where data can be transferred wholesale to the government. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman commented that China was using counterterrorism as a cover for protectionism. China is brushing aside the criticism, arguing that it is simply adopting the same approach to lawful interception as the United States and the United Kingdom. Civil liberties groups and technologists, not ones to usually side with Beijing on anything, are piling on by pointing out the contradictions in the U.S. position.
- The UN Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held a two-day conference in Paris this week, where it released a study on Internet policy issues related to its mandate, namely access to knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy and ethics. The study promotes the idea of "Internet Universality," whereby the Internet should promote human rights, remain open and accessible to all, and that its development remains consistent with the multistakeholder model. The study and accompanying conference outcome document are expected to feed into the WSIS+10 review process which will take place later this year at the UN General Assembly.
- Some cybersecurity experts are questioning the wisdom of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account during her tenure as secretary of state. It’s no secret that high-ranking government officials are prime target for foreign intelligence organizations and using a private e-mail account to conduct government business increases the risk of communications being intercepted. Government e-mail accounts are protected by EINSTEIN, a system run by the Department of Homeland Security that scans e-mails for malware indicators, some of which are classified and supplied by the NSA, though that doesn’t mean that government networks are clean. In November 2014, the State Department shut down its unclassified e-mail network and parts of its website after it detected "activities of concern" on its network.