from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: November 11, 2016

CFR Cyber Net Politics
CFR Cyber Net Politics

November 11, 2016 5:00 pm (EST)

CFR Cyber Net Politics
CFR Cyber Net Politics
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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:

1. President-elect Trump on digital and cyber policy. With the election of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth president of the United States, it might be an opportune time to revisit his positions on digital issues based on policy positions and statements made during the campaign. His cybersecurity platform, which Net Politics assessed, called for the creation of Cyber Review Teams to review federal cybersecurity practices, joint task forces to combat cybercrime, and the development of "offensive technologies." Consistent with the Republican campaign platform, President-elect Trump was opposed to the IANA transition, though now that the transition has occurred, it’s unclear what his administration might do, if anything. During the Apple-FBI court battle over encryption, Trump called for a boycott of Apple after the company refused to decrypt the San Bernardino suspect’s iPhone. He has tweeted against net neutrality and expressed a desire to work with the tech industry to stem online radicalization. It is too early to say who the Trump administration might recruit to work on cyber issues, though former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has expressed an interest in having a role in the cyber portfolio.

2. Cue the think pieces and post mortems. Donald Trump’s election to the presidency has spurred a lot of reflection on the power of social media, the efficacy of Russian cyber operations, and the role of the U.S. intelligence community in a Trump administration. On Net Politics, David Fidler examines President-elect Trump’s use of digital populism to energize his supporters and push out his message. The New York Times reports that Silicon Valley is reeling and is concerned that its tools "hastened the decline of journalism and the irrelevance of facts." Wired’s Issie Lapowsky looks at what she argues is the dark side of tech, pointing out that this election gave trolls a political voice and flagged the vulnerability of email as a form of communication. Also at Wired, Andy Greenberg argues that the election vindicates the boldness and brazenness of Russia’s cyber operations. The Washington Post notes that some in the U.S. intelligence community are dreading serving a president whose campaign staff was allegedly close to the Kremlin.

3. China passes cybersecurity law. The controversial law, passed on Monday, has always been intended to preserve China’s “cyberspace sovereignty,” but has undergone revisions since the first draft was published a year ago. Much of the original overseas backlash centered around language describing the need for information technology to be “secure and controllable,” though that wording was eventually removed. Nevertheless, network operators in China will be forced to supply “technical support” to government investigations, and websites will face penalties if they are used to publish anti-government opinions. These provisions have have long been controversial with foreign businesses, who have argued that the language is vague enough to be used for discriminatory purposes. The criticism has only intensified since the passage of the bill. The law also forbids Chinese internet users from seeking "the overturn of the socialist system," "disseminating violent, obscene or sexual information," or "disseminating false information to disrupt the economic or social order." The law effectively formalizes prohibitions and obligations on network operators that were de facto in China.

4. All your data are belong to us. The French government recently announced that it will store basic identifying data on its over sixty million citizens in a central databank. Known as Secure Electronic Documents, the move is intended to combat identity fraud and will compile the names, addresses, eye colors, marital status, weight, official photographs, and fingerprints of every French citizen. Much of this data is already collected at the local level as part of France’s national identity card program, and the government argues that a centralized database is necessary to authenticate individuals seeking government services such as passports. The announcement was met with swift denunciation from the country’s left-wing media, with some outlets comparing the data collection to Nazi efforts during the occupation of France. Privacy advocates have also expressed outrage, who fear such a system will inevitably be abused or hacked potentially like the compromise at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.