from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: May 1, 2015

CFR Net Politics Cyber

May 1, 2015

CFR Net Politics Cyber
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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: 

  • The FBI got a chilly reception at a Congressional hearing this week on the issue of encryption. Members of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee’s Information Technology subcommittee expressed skepticism that companies could build a mechanism that would allow law enforcement to decrypt communications without creating vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors. Rep. Ted Lieu said that "creating a pathway for decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid." Amy Hess, executive assistant director for science and technology at the FBI, argued that it was not looking to weaken encryption and referenced the split key proposal floated by NSA Director Mike Rogers. You can watch the full hearing here.
  • The reviews of the Department of Defense’s new cyber strategy are in. Henry Farrell at the Washington Post notes that the document drops the "cyber Pearl Harbor" trope and Just Security’s Kristen Eichensehr is pleased with its emphasis of the applicability of international law to cyberspace. Herb Lin at Lawfare and the New York Times editorial board point out that the United States is being more transparent with its offensive capabilities, though Wired’s Kim Zetter disagrees. As noted last week, the strategy places a heavy emphasis on the need to publically deter adversaries, consistent with recent denunciations of China, North Korea and Iran. It’s unclear how vigorously the United States will pursue a deterrence approach given that Obama administration has yet to publicly denounce Russia, widely believed to be behind an intrusion that compromised White House and State Department networks.
  • The European Union’s Ambassador to the United States, David O’Sullivan, penned an op-ed in Wired in which he confronts claims that the EU is "going after U.S. tech companies." He argues that EU anti-trust authorities, which have lodged a complaint against Google, investigate any dominant player in a particular market irrespective of nationality. He also notes that the popularity of social networks, most of which happen to be American, does not mean that they get a free pass to skirt EU privacy law. The op-ed comes days before the EU launches its Digital Market Strategy, which U.S. companies fear could make it harder for them to operate in the common market.
  • Germany probably wishes it had toned down its public outrage when the Snowden disclosures revealed that the NSA had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone. This week, German newspapers reported that the BND, the German equivalent of the NSA, was helping the NSA spy on the Elysée Palace, the European Commission, and Airbus. In 2013, Merkel famously said: "Spying on friends is not on at all." While French officials declined to comment on the allegations, Airbus said it would pursue legal action "against persons unknown on the suspicion of industrial espionage." If only there was a German word to express the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.
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