The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 66

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue 66, March 13, 2015 can be found here.

Highlights:

  • US Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) released the full text of rules related to net neutrality in a 313-page document
  • The UK Parliament released a report that found it is “technologically infeasible” to block encryption sites like Tor

ICANN & IANA

Alawadhi, Neha. India could lose opportunity to have greater say in the way Internet is governed worldwide: Fadi Chehadé, ICANN. IndiaTimes. March 10, 2015.

  • This article outlines the complicated relationship between ICANN and the Indian government due to a lack of consensus among various Indian ministries.  According to Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), ICANN has been on a “pause mode” in conversations with India during the recent transitions in the Indian government. Chehadi warns that India must get involved in the conversation soon, because they risk being left out of important decisions regarding the future of Internet governance.

Post, David. ICANN, copyright infringement, and “the public interest.” The Washington Post. March 9, 2015.

  • This month, both the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wrote open letters to ICANN expressing the industry’s “disappointment with … ICANN’s treatment of copyright abuse complaints filed to date.” Post argues that this is a troubling trend, particularly in light of the upcoming IANA transition. According to Post, this represents a threat to free expression on the Internet, arguing “It’s not just the Russians and the Chinese we need to keep out of the global content regulation business, but also RIAA, MPAA, and any other private stakeholders or governments that want to leverage ICANN for their own purposes.”

Internet Governance

Anthony, Sebastian. UK Parliament says it’s technologically infeasible” to block Tor. Arstechnica. March 11, 2015

  • This week, the UK Parliament published a report “on the future of the darknet and online anonymity.” Just a few months after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that encryption should be outlawed, the parliamentary report found that it would be “technologically infeasible” to block people from using Tor in the UK. While the report did briefly mention terrorism, the report also details how Tor Hidden Services “allow for the creation of criminal markets (like Silk Road) and aid in whistleblowing, journalism and circumvention of censorship.”

Barrett, Brian. Twitter finally banned revenge porn. Now how to enforce it? Wired. March 12, 2015.

  • Twitter has updated its rules to ban revenge porn, stating that “You may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.” However, Barrett argues that this overdue move does not address the root of the problem, and also still places the burden of reporting on the victim. He discusses the difficulties in administering these rules, a process that is “likely to be lumbering at best, and at worst largely ineffective.” He states that Twitter could also take a more aggressive stance to tackle trolls such as limiting the number of accounts associating with an IP address and collaborating with law enforcement.

Franceschi-Bicchierai. It’s Not Just Apple: US Spies Tried to Crack Microsoft Windows’ Encryption Too.Motherboard. March 11, 2015.

  • New documents released by Edward Snowden reveal that “the CIA has been working on ways to break and circumvent Apple’s encryption for years”  and a recent story by The Intercept suggests that the CIA “might be able to break into BitLocker, the Microsoft software that encrypt hard drives.”  The documents detail a process called “differential power analysis” which is “a sophisticated side-channel ​attack in which spies use sensors or other devices to study the power consumption of a chip while it encrypts and decrypts information to extract the keys from it.” According to the author, “this revelation questions how secure BitLocker is in general.”

Hager, Nicky and Ryan Gallagher. Snowden revelations: NZ’s spy reach stretches across globe. The New Zealand Herald. March 11, 2015.

  • According to a recent analysis by the New Zealand Herald, an NSA profile of the GCSB “reveals the New Zealand organisation is running spying operations against 20 or more countries, including friendly nations and trading partners.” According to information taken from an NSA officer’s review, the GCSB was particularly helpful giving the NSA access to areas and countries that were difficult for the US to access, including  China, Japanese/North Korean/Vietnamese/South American diplomatic communications, South Pacific island nations, Pakistan, India, Iran and Antarctica

Ruiz, Rebecca. F.C.C. Releases Net Neutrality Rules. The New York Times. March 12, 2015.

  • On Thursday, the US Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) released a 313-page document of rules related to net neutrality. As was announced earlier, the rules “reclassify high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service…subjecting providers to stricter regulation under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.” The rules also establish that the FCC will “decide what is acceptable on a case-by-case basis.” According to Ruiz, some wonder whether the the FCC has the capacity to manage this process.

Shannon, Greg. Cybersecurity And The Future Digital Economy. TechCrunch. March 10, 2015.

  • This article by Greg Shannon, chief scientist for the CERT Division at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, and chair of the IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative, examines “what an economy-threatening cyber attack really means.” He states that “we need to make a science of cyberspace and security” and that “it’s necessary to articulate the fundamental connection between cyberspace and a vibrant, innovative, growing economy.” He outlines some of the ways emerging technologies can play a role in improving cybersecurity, and argues that in terms of public policy questions and decisions on economy-threatening cyber attacks,  “we’ll collectively have to assess systemic vulnerabilities and decide on acceptable levels of risk, as well as the levels of cooperation and investment needed to mitigate risk.”

Stern, Mark Joseph. France Wants to Punish Facebook for Censoring a Painting of a Vagina. Terrible Idea.Slate. March 06, 2015.

  • Facebook recently censored an artwork called The Origin of the World that it deemed pornographic, and suspended the account of the French teacher who uploaded the picture. The teacher has sued Facebook claiming that it violated his right to free speech, and a Paris court has agreed with his claim that French courts should have jurisdiction to hear his case. According to Stern, while this decision may seem like a “win for free expression” in reality it “could clear the way for civil libertarian nightmares down the road.” He states that “European countries generally take a very lenient approach to free speech, granting the government broad powers to censor any expression deemed hateful. Allowing European courts to monitor the online speech hosted by American companies would ultimately result in punishment of unpopular views and chilling of vital expression.”

Wales, Jimmy and Tretikov, Lila. Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users. The New York Times. March 10, 2015.

  • This week, Wikipedia filed a lawsuit against the US National Security Agency (NSA) “to protect the rights of the 500 million people who use Wikipedia every month.” According to Wikipedia, the NSA’s mass surveillance violates both the Fourth and First Amendments, and NSA activity “exceeds the authority granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress amended in 2008.” The lawsuit comes after a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden mentioned Wikipedia by name as a target for surveillance.

Weckler, Adrian. Europe hints it will back Ireland’s stance. The Independent. March 12, 2015.

  • This week, the EU Commission hinted that it supports the Irish government and Microsoft in the ongoing Microsoft personal data case. This case began when the FBI issued a warrant for access to personal data on Microsoft’s Irish servers. According to the Commission’s Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova  “the commission’s view is that personal data held by private companies in the EU should not, in principle, be directly accessed by or transferred to foreign enforcement authorities outside of formal channels of operation.” According to the author the results of this case “could have profound effects on the safety and privacy of data of European citizens, as many of the most-used internet services are US companies.”

New Technologies

Brodkin, Jon. Google balloons, “cell towers in the sky,” can serve 4G to whole state. ArsTechnica. March 11, 2015.

  • This article highlights the progress made in Google’s “Project Loon”, a pilot program that utilizes Loon balloons to provide 4G LTE cellular service to areas up to “the size of Rhode Island.” According to Bodkin, “Google has boosted the balloons’ potential altitude from about 800 meters to a couple of kilometers, allowing more control over where they fly.” Google is currently testing in California and New Zealand, with an established recovery zone in Latin America. They are currently looking for various partners to expand.

Reports and Papers

Anderson, Collin. Considerations On Wassenaar Arrangement Control List Additions For Surveillance Technologies. Access.  March 13, 2015.

  • This week, Access released a white paper that highlights the export of surveillance technologies. In the paper, Anderson, “ assesses how effective the approved definitions are likely to be in fulfilling their main objectives, and provides recommendations for how they should be interpreted and implemented by export control authorities.” The paper concludes that “if the new regulations are well defined and implemented correctly, there is a ‘constructive and expansive role for export controls in the promotion of human rights and cyber security goals.’”

Cath, Corinne J.N., Glorioso, Ludovica, Taddeo, Maria Rosaria. NATO CCD COE Workshop on ‘Ethics and Policies for Cyber Warfare’. Oxford University. 2015.

  • This report presents the views and recommendations of experts at the Oxford workshop that “was organised to allow speakers from three interacting fields – politics, law and cyber security – to develop their views about the existing regulatory gaps in cyber warfare and its ethical underpinnings.” It covers three main areas: a) politics and the extent to which current political bodies can develop and address cyber security norms, b) laws and “the applicability of current legal mechanisms of warfare to cyberspace”, and c) “the role and contribution of experts from academia in filling the regulatory gaps in cyber warfare.”

Events

(The below includes both past and upcoming events. See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)


The US should adopt the “Right to be Forgotten” online. Intelligence2 Debates. March 11, 2015.

  • In this debate, Paul Nemitz and Eric Posner argue for and Jonathan Zittrain and Andrew McLaughlin argue against the position that the US should adopt the European “right to be forgotten” law online. You can read the transcript or watch the full debate video here.

Leave a Reply