Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
- There were some big Internet-related announcements at the UN General Assembly this week. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for universal Internet access as a “force for peace.” He’s partnering with Bono to hold world leaders accountable to the new Sustainable Development Goal of universal Internet access by 2020. Zuckerberg also revealed a plan to partner with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide Internet access in refugee camps through Facebook’s Internet.org program, recently renamed Free Basics by Facebook in response to concerns raised by net neutrality proponents that Facebook is only providing a curated version of the Internet, not the whole thing. Still at the UN, the U.S. Department of State launched the “Global Connect” initiative in partnership with the World Bank to provide Internet access to 1.5 billion people by 2020. If the plan is to have everyone online by 2020 and the ITU calculates that roughly four billion still lack access, are there any takers to help connect the remaining 2.5 billion in five years?
- The working group in charge of recommending changes to make the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) accountable in a post-IANA transition environment met last week, and by some accounts, it did not go well. The U.S. government, which contracts the IANA functions to ICANN, has said that it will not approve a transition plan unless it has broad support of the Internet community. The community can’t seem to agree to a governance model that would replace the U.S. government’s role oversight role. According to Kieren McCarthy at the Register, there are two main camps. One wants to amend ICANN’s corporate structure to allow its members to have more say in decision making, have the power to remove ICANN board members, and change the organization’s by-laws. The other camp, mainly current and former ICANN board members and staffers, views the proposed changes as a threat to its power and are opposed, though the board seems to recognize that some changes are required. Despite prodding from U.S. government officials at the meeting, the deadlock remains. While the entire IANA transition process isn’t in jeopardy (yet), it could put the exercise at risk if both sides don’t resolve their differences.
- Google is back under the FTC’s antitrust lens for noncompetitive practices with regard to the Android mobile OS, Bloomberg reported last week. While Android is open source and offered to developers for free, Microsoft, Nokia, and Expedia say that Google’s requirement that Android come bundled with Google apps makes it impossible for their alternative products to compete on a level playing field. While that argument has recently held water with EU regulators, the FTC decided not to pursue a similar case against Google three years ago; it’s unclear if they’ll take up the case this time around. The FTC also launched a lawsuit this week against a Florida company that included a “gag clause” against unfavorable online reviews in its terms of service; the regulator says companies can’t offer consumers contracts with such a clause.
- A week has passed since the United States and China negotiated a cybersecurity agreement on economic espionage, and the Net Politics team has weighed in. While lauding the inclusion of an “escalation option” and explicit CERT-CERT enforcement mechanism, Rob proposes “a third party, independent mechanism to process and track requests for mutual legal assistance.” David highlights the new “global potential” of the United States’ norm against IP theft and suggests that the deal may open the door for international legal restrictions on espionage. And in my post, I raise questions about implementation, attribution, and the use of proxies in cybertheft.
- As the ten-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society approaches, the Internet Society has posted a matrix outlining states’ positions on Internet governance, the digital divide, and cybersecurity, among other issues. The tool is pretty hand if you’re a government looking to get a sense of your colleagues’ negotiating positions. It’s also handy if you’re a casual observer trying to make sense of it all.