Internet Governance Monthly Brief (April 2020): Internet in COVID-19 era; ICANN blocks controversial sale of .org domain; U.S Cyberspace Solarium Commission Report; ITU stress importance of Frontier technologies to combat climate change; Snowden asks to remain in Russia..
INTERNET IN COVID-19 ERA
- DATA PROTECTION – PRIVACY
The European Data Protection Board unveiled guidance on data processing and the use of location data and contact tracing tools, as European Commission adopted Recommendation to support exit strategies through mobile data and apps. Zoom restricted at multiple organisations.
In Europe, the European Union EDPB has published guidelines 04/2020 on the use of location data and contact tracing tools in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and opens up the door to exception to consent.
Also, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission recommended steps and measures to develop a common EU approach for the use of mobile applications and mobile data.
Many organisations and governments around the world moved to lock down or ban remote workers from using videoconferencing and collaboration application Zoom during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Apple Inc. and Google aimed to build software together that would alert people if they were in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus, an unprecedented collaboration between two Silicon Valley giants and rivals.
United Nations tackled ‘infodemic’ of misinformation while European External Action Service’s team reported on disinformation accusing Russia and China, as African governments teamed up with tech giants to handle misinformation fight
The United Nations has warned of criminals exploiting the COVID-19 crisis by selling fake coronavirus cures online and making cyberattack on hospitals’ critical information systems. The institution also underlined a proliferation of false information about the virus.
According to the latest update published by the European External Action Service’s team, China and Russia continues to use the global coronavirus crisis to spread false reports and other online disinformation.
In Africa, governments are teaming up with technology giants including Facebook and WhatsApp to fight misinformation about coronavirus on social media platforms.
United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) joint advisory to provide information on cybercriminals. Europol reported on latest developments in security for public health as European Commission called on platforms to stop scams and unfair practices
The United Kingdom’s NCSC and the United States’ CISA released a joint advisory to provide information on exploitation by cybercriminal and Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups of the current coronavirus disease.
In the United States, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned Americans that scammers and hackers were likely to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to target financial information.
Besides, The Pentagon has seen a “surge” in cyberattacks due to the coronavirus as hackers exploit restrictions from the pandemic that force an unprecedented number of Defense Department employees to communicate almost entirely by computer systems.
In Europe, governments are intensifying their efforts to combat the global spread of the coronavirus by enacting various measures to support public health systems, safeguard the economy and to ensure public order and safety.
- TELECOMMUNICATION – INFRASTRUCTURE
UN Broadband Commission pushed for action to extend internet access, as BEREC reported on the status of internet capacity.
An emergency virtual meeting of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has adopted an Agenda for Action outlining immediate measures that governments, the industry, the international community and the civil society can take to strengthen capacity at critical connectivity points like hospitals and transport hubs.
In Europe; the updated BEREC reporting document on the status of internet capacity in light of COVID-19, compiled on 2 April 2020 shows the overall traffic on fixed and mobile networks has increased during the Covid-19 crisis, but the internet service providers (ISPs) continue to cope with the situation.
- FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Council of Europe warns of Freedom of expression and information; 2020 World Press Freedom report launched
The Council of Europe stated the importance to ensure that any exceptional measures introduced do not undermine freedom of expression (Article 10) and other human rights (Article 15) in the context of COVID-19 crisis.
The 2020 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows that the coming decade will be decisive for the future of journalism, with the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting and amplifying the threat on freedom of expression.
New UNDP data dashboards reveal huge disparities among countries to cope with COVID-19
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released two new data dashboards that highlight the huge disparities in countries’ abilities to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crisis
- ONLINE EDUCATION
United Nations Environment Programme launched “Earth School” to keep students connected
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and TED-Ed, initiated the launch of “Earth School,” which provides free, high-quality educational content to help students, parents and teachers around the world currently at home due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- CHILD ONLINE PROTECTION
UNICEF underlined risk of online harm in millions of children
UNICEF said millions of children are at increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic
- CYBER GEOPOLITICS
Snowden asks to remain in Russia for three more years; The US Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore and the Elections Department (ELD) Advised Political Parties about Threat of Foreign Interference in Elections and Cybersecurity Risks; Israel underlined Coordinated Cyber-Attack on Its Water Infrastructure Command and Control Systems
Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden requested an extended residency permit in Russia for three more years.
The United States MHA, the CSA of Singapore and the Elections Department have published advisories to political parties, on the Elections Department website, about the threat of foreign interference in elections and cybersecurity risks.
Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced in a statement, that reports have been received about attempted attacks on command and control systems of wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations, and sewage.
- DATA PROTECTION
Data Protection and Privacy Officer launched Priorities 2020 Report; Equifax settles Indiana case over massive data breach for $19.5 million, while Personal data of 115mn Pakistani mobile users go on sale on Dark Web
The 2020 report of The Data Protection and Privacy Officer Priorities provides insights, challenges and priorities on data protection for 2020 in Europe. The report surveys 471 privacy specialists working for companies around the world, representing a mix of 16 industries to provide a broad overview of their 2020 priorities.
The US state’s attorney general said Equifax Inc will pay Indiana $19.5 million to resolve claims it failed to protect residents whose personal information was exposed in a data breach that affected 147 million people.
A Pakistani cybersecurity company has discovered a data dump of 115 million Pakistani mobile users’ data, which have been put up for sale on the dark web
- INTELLECTUAL PROOERTY
France and Australia urged tech giant pay domestic media to use content
France’s competition authority ruled on that Google must pay French publishing companies and news agencies for re-using their content.
Australia will force Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to share advertising revenue with local media firms, the country’s treasurer said, becoming one of the first countries to require digital platforms to pay for content they use.
Argentina and China Central Banks Leverages Blockchain Technology
The Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) is studying a new blockchain-based clearing system which is not a digital currency, but the use of a permissioned DLT based on RSK smart contract technology.
China’s central bank is a step closer to becoming the world’s first major monetary authority to issue its own digital tender. The People’s Bank of China will conduct internal tests for the central bank’s digital currency (CBDC) across four cities (Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiong’An and Chengdu), according to a statement issued by the bank.
- DOMAIN NAME
ICANN blocks controversial sale of .org domain to a private equity firm
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has rejected a controversial proposal to sell the .org domain to a private equity group for more than $1 billion.
U.S Cyberspace Solarium Commission Report
The US Cyberspace Solarium Commission, created by the 2019 Defence Authorization Act, launched its official report on the organization, policy and technical issues on how to best defend the country against digital security threats.
- FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Council of Europe Annual report on protection of journalism and safety of journalists
The Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists recorded 142 serious threats to media freedom, including 33 physical attacks against journalists, 17 new cases of detention and imprisonment, 43 cases of harassment and intimidation, and two new cases of impunity for murder.
- DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT
ITU stress importance of Frontier technologies to combat climate change
An ITU/UN report entitled “Frontier technologies to protect the environment and tackle climate change” highlight how smart water management, climate monitoring, frontier technologies, 5G and robotics can support the battle against climate change.
RIPE opposes Chinese proposal to change core internet protocols
RIPE has opposed the proposal from China to replace the current internet protocols with a set of new rules. The proposal is backed by the Chinese telecommunication equipment maker Huawei as well as the Chinese government, and was submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in September last year.