Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
- The European Court of Justice invalidated the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor agreement regulating the flow of personal data from Europe to the United States, citing inadequate data protections in the United States in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. While the European Commission and White House plan to negotiate a new accord--an updated Safe Harbor framework was already in the works--many officials, companies, and analysts have expressed concerns about this week’s verdict. Here on Net Politics, Karen Kornbluh weighs in on the implications of the decision and the “unpredictable outcomes” of European data protection reforms. Sidley Austin LLP Partner and guest blogger Alan Charles Raul argues that the U.S. government largely has itself to blame given that it failed to publicly communicate the checks and balances baked into U.S. intelligence collection efforts.
- The Washington Post reports that the Chinese government arrested hackers the U.S. government identified as having engaged in cyber espionage for commercial gain one or two weeks before Chinese President Xi’s state visit late last month. According to the Post, the United States identified individuals it wanted the Chinese authorities to arrest so as to demonstrate that China was serious in cracking down on commercially-motivated cyber activity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there have been no similar reports in the Chinese press. It’s only been two weeks since President Xi said his country wouldn’t "conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property," so it’s too early to tell whether China is sticking to its commitment. Nevertheless, if the Post report is accurate, it would be a good sign of compliance.
- After ten years of negotiation, the United States and eleven other Pacific Rim nations finalized the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord, an extensive trade agreement setting standards to regulate commerce across the Pacific. While President Obama has championed the agreement as a means of bringing American exports to new markets and offsetting Chinese economic ascendency, the tech community, like Congress, is largely split. In particular, the undisclosed e-commerce and leaked intellectual property chapters have generated buzz. Whereas many large companies are enthusiastic about the widely rumored “free flow of information across borders” and elimination of unfair “forced localization” measures, many privacy advocates, small businesses, and Internet users have expressed concerns over broad language, copyright terms, and a lack of transparency. We’ll have analysis on the e-commerce chapter when the final text of the deal is released in the coming days.
- The Nameless Coalition, a grouping of seventy-five advocacy groups, sent a letter to Facebook demanding “concrete and meaningful changes” to the company’s controversial real names policy, which requires users post under an authentic identity that “acceptable identification forms would show.” Although Facebook promised to “fix the way this policy gets handled” last year in response to backlash from the LGBT community and several advocacy organizations, the social network has yet to adopt any modifications. In its letter, the Nameless Coalition endorses the elimination of the policy in its entirety for ethical as well as legal reasons, but it also includes a series of working recommendations for the time being, such as permitting the use of non-legal names in appropriate situations, instituting an identity compliance mechanism that does not require government ID, and providing information about personal data storage and access.