Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:
1. Is the IANA transition going off the rails? The U.S. Department of Commerce notified the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that it might extend the IANA functions contract beyond its expiry date at the end of September. As part of the IANA transition process (covered extensively here, here and here), the Department of Commerce planned on permanently transferring the IANA functions to ICANN, whose management of those functions would be overseen by the global multistakeholder internet community, by October 1. Commerce gave no reason for the delay, but it is widely believed that some legal and ICANN accountability issues need to be ironed out before the transition can take place. The delay is giving longtime transition opponents, such as U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, more time to drum up support against the transition though it’s hard to see how they will succeed given that arcane internet governance discussions generally draw more yawns than excitement amongst elected officials.
2. Domo Arigato Mr. Brexit. Last weekend, the Japanese foreign ministry published an open letter to the United Kingdom and the European Union, in which Japan expressed concerns about Brexit’s potential to interrupt data flows across the English Channel. Their concerns are warranted. With the UK’s anticipated exit from the European Union, the country may pull out from the bloc’s data protection rules and some observers have questioned whether Brussels would consider the UK’s data protections adequate should Brexit happen. The Japanese foreign ministry’s letter calls for negotiations on data transfers between the UK and EU to be transparent to reduce uncertainty for Japanese businesses, and urges the two parties “to maintain…free transfer of data.” While a public letter of this sort is a rather unusual move for the foreign ministry, it underscores the potential impact of a halt in data flows on the 1,400 Japanese firms operating in the United Kingdom.
3. European Union rumored to extend telecoms regulation to messaging apps. According to Reuters, the European Union is set to unveil a reform of its telecommunication regulations next week that will extend some provisions to "over-the-top" players--industry lingo for apps and services that use the internet to deliver content. Specifically, companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google will be required to report security breaches that affect their operations "without undue delay" to national authorities and internet telephony services, like Skype or Viber, will need to provide support for 911 calls (or 112 calls as they’re known in Europe). As with all proposed EU directives, the final regulatory language will need to be negotiated between the European Commission, Parliament and Member States meaning that it might change significantly as it moves through the legislative process. Silicon Valley’s increased lobbying presence in Brussels might have a role to play in shaping the law’s outcome. According a Google regulatory filing, the search giant spent over 15 percent more in lobbying in 2015 than it did in 2014.