from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: May 11, 2018

New National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House on April 9, 2018 Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

This week: abolishing the cybersecurity coordinator position at the White House, work stoppage at ZTE, and kicking Nazis off the internet. 

May 11, 2018

New National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House on April 9, 2018 Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

1. Cyber is not a big deal anymore. According to Politico, new U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton is mulling the elimination of the cybersecurity coordinator position at the White House. President Barack Obama created the position in 2009 as a way to coordinate the U.S. government's approach to cybersecurity issues and mediate disputes between the alphabet soup of government agencies with equities in cyber policy decisions. The current coordinator, Rob Joyce, is on loan from the National Security Agency and announced last month that he will return to Fort Meade (today is Joyce's last day at the White House). The unnamed sources quoted in the Politico story are split over whether abolishing the position is a done deal. Mira Ricardel, former undersecretary for export administration at the Department of Commerce and Bolton's deputy, would likely absorb the coordinator's responsibilities if the position is abolished. The story drew swift and largely negative reactions. Former cyber coordinator at the State Department Chris Painter called the move a "huge step backwards," a sentiment echoed by former government officials. Whether the Trump administration intends to or not, abolishing the position would send the signal that the United States does not prioritize cyber issues at the highest levels of government. 

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2. How’s business comrade? Major operations at ZTE, China's second largest telecommunications conglomerate, came to a halt this week. Employees have been ambling around without work to do. Factory floors are empty. Distributors have stopped selling ZTE phones because they cannot guarantee supply. The work stoppage is the result of a U.S. Department of Commerce ‘denial notice’ issued against the company for violating U.S. sanctions last month. The blacklisting effectively cut ZTE off from its U.S. suppliers, which provide it with everything from processors to fibre-optic cable, crippling the company’s core business. While senior Chinese officials have urged the United States to rescind its denial notice, some commentators in China believe it’s time to put the company out of its pain and break it up into several core businesses.

3. Someone actually read our terms of service! Domain registrar GoDaddy has kicked white supremacist Richard Spencer's website, altright.com, off the internet. In justifying its decision, GoDaddy said that the website was in violation of its terms of service, notably provisions against inciting violence. A civil rights group brought altright.com to the attention of GoDaddy's CEO Scott Wagner, and pointed out specific examples of content on Spencer's website that violated the company's terms of service. GoDaddy gave Spencer forty-eight hours to find another registrar for his website, which he has apparently struggled to do given that the website was removed last Wednesday and is still down. The removal comes a few months after GoDaddy took similar steps to remove TheDailyStormer, a neo-nazi website, and CloudFlare terminated its account. 

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