Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
- China hosted a global Internet conference this week, where China’s Internet regulator and President Xi Jinping stressed China’s long-standing position that governments have sovereign control over Internet content within their borders and that online activity must comply with the rule of law. They also reiterated the Chinese position that the Internet should be managed in a multilateral manner, which is a not-so-veiled criticism of the current Internet governance model in which governments are but one stakeholder among many in the current governance structure instead of the dominant one as China would prefer. As I’ve previously mentioned, China’s conference adds to the already numerous conferences in the past few years where countries have tried to promote their respective visions for cyberspace, such as Brazil’s NetMundial, India’s CyFy, and the "London process" series of conferences, the next of which will be held in the Netherlands in April 2015.
- Congressman Mike Kelley (R-PA) introduced the Defending Internet Freedom Act, which would set conditions under which the U.S. Department of Commerce could permanently transfer the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. For the uninitiated, Kieren McCarthy at the Register provides an overview of what this all means here. Paul Rosenzweig at Lawfare also has a write-up of the bill here.
- Facebook’s WhatsApp, a popular mobile instant messaging service, announced that it would encrypt all messages for its Android users by default. The announcement follows Apple’s recent statement that its new iOS 8 platform will encrypt all user data by default and that Apple will not have the keys to decrypt the data, drawing the ire of the FBI. It also comes at the same time that a coalition of tech companies announced an effort to encrypt the web by making it easier for website administrators to encrypt connections to their websites. Tech companies argue that their focus on encryption responds to consumer demand for more privacy protections in their digital lives as a result of the disclosures of the NSA’s activities.