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Internet Governance Monthly Brief (May 2020): Internet and COVID-19 in May; USA reconsiders cyber policies amid geopolitics’ concerns; Germany – Russia cyber disputes; EDPB released Guidelines 05/2020 on consent; Facebook’s “2Africa” project launched.

Internet Governance Monthly Brief (May 2020): Internet and COVID-19 in May; USA reconsiders cyber policies amid geopolitics’ concerns; Germany – Russia cyber disputes; EDPB released Guidelines 05/2020 on consent; Facebook’s “2Africa” project launched.


USA – CHINA battle over COVID-19 vaccine research

The USA – China battle over COVID-19 vaccine research emerged as the two countries pushed for more geopolitical influence in global healthcare sector during the pandemic. On May 13, a joint statement released by The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) stressed the need for all organisations to maintain dedicated cybersecurity measures in conducting COVID-19 vaccine research. In fact, China was accused by FBI to try to steal USA vaccine result research. These accusations were formally denied by China.

United Nations launched initiatives to counter COVID-19 outbreak

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched a platform named Verified, an initiative aimed at delivering trusted information to help counter the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

In addition, UN warned of increasing risks of nuclear proliferation and the absence of law enforcement in most of cyberspace’s field.

On access, the United Nations Technology Bank, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the Tech Access Partnership (TAP) as part of a coordinated approach to strengthen developing countries’ responses to COVID-19 and increase access to lifesaving health technologies.

UNICEF announced a new partnership with Airtel Africa aimed at providing children with access to remote learning and enable access to cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers

African Union called for contribution to the AU Digital Fund

African Union called on all multilateral financial institutions and partners, including the AfDB, the World Bank and others to support rapid implementation of the African Strategy for Digital Transformation (DTS) and contribute to the AU Digital Fund.

Europe on more digital policies to stop the surge of the Pandemic

The European Union released guidelines on contact tracing stressing the need for the Organisation to go for a common EU Toolbox to guarantee interoperability framework for mobile tracing application. The EU considers that interoperability between individual states’ applications is essential to enable the tracing of cross-border infection chains.

On infrastructure, European Union has urged Europeans to continue the implementation of their 5G project while OECD stressed the increase of internet traffic to 60 % in many countries with majority of people working from home.

The Commission launched its post COVID-19 plan to face the consequences of the crisis. In fact, the Organisation aimed to invest on 5G, Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity to boost its recovery plan.

The Agency for Fundamental Rights stated the rise of new fundamental rights concerns and called governments to step up the fight against when trying to stop the surge of the pandemic.

G20 Digital ministers urge digital technologies to combat COVID-19

The G20 Digital Economy ministers issued statements stressing the potential of digital technologies including Artificial Intelligence in the fight against pandemics by accelerating development of potential diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The minsters also stated that COVID-19-related data should be collected and processed in an ethical, transparent, safe, interoperable, and secure manner that protects the privacy and data security of individuals.

More cyberattacks in healthcare sector

COVID-19 has seen considerable increase of cyberattacks in healthcare sector such as hospitals and medical research centres. To stop the surge of these malicious cyber activities, The European Union, the United states, the United Nations, the Red Cross all called for an end to these cyberattacks.

The GIG economy strongly impacted

The GIG economy is strongly impacted by the COVID pandemic with UBER, Airbnb and Lyft laying off employees due to the Coronavirus pandemic


The USA reconsiders cyber policies on content, infrastructure and security with three executive orders signed by Trump.

Twitter – Trump saga emerged after twitter fact-checks for the first time Trump’s tweet. This Twitter’s action angered Trump who said “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”. This was followed by the Trump’s signing of an executive order that called for the Federal Communications Commission to revisit Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act of 1996, which provides websites immunity from liability for content users post on their platforms.

Besides, in order to secure united States Bulk-Power System (BPS), President Trump signed on May 1 Executive Order (EO) 13920, “Securing the United States Bulk-Power System, “ which authorizes U.S. Secretary of Energy to work with the Cabinet and the energy industry.

President Donald Trump extended for another year an executive order signed in May 2019 prohibiting U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk.

FBI broke the encryption on Pensacola shooter’s iPhones

US Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced more developments in the FBI’s investigation shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that killed three U.S. sailors and eight other Americans. Several medias reported that investigators discovered ties between the Pensacola shooting suspect, Mohammed Alshamrani, and Al Qaeda after breaking through his iPhones’ encryption. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray subsequently confirmed the development during a conference

Mark Zuckerberg’s concerns over China’s Internet regulation

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has raised concern over China’s way to regulate internet services saying he is worried about how other countries are trying to imitate Chinese model.

Germany – Russia cyber disputes over Merkel’s emails hack

Germany and Russia held cyber disputes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that she was targeted by hackers thought to be Russian military intelligence (GRU). In fact, Germany stressed that Russia’s GRU military intelligence service accessed to many emails from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency office in a 2015 hack attack on Germany’s parliament. Those allegations were denied by russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating that :”Five years have passed. Not a single concrete fact has been provided,”

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) released Guidelines 05/2020 on consent under the EU General Data Protection Regulation

The EDPB published on May 6, 2020, its Guidelines 05/2020 (the “EDPB Guidelines”) on consent under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”). The EDPB Guidelines are an updated version of the Article 29 Working Party’s Guidelines on consent under the GDPR (the WP29 Guidelines), which were adopted in April 2018 and endorsed by the EDPB .

Facebook’s “2Africa” project launched

To reach its aim to bring faster internet connectivity to the African continent, Facebook, through its ‘2Africa’ project is building a 37,000-kilometer undersea internet cable, to connect 23 countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East

ITU facts and figures 2019 on digital development

ITU released its report on facts and figures 2019 in digital development stressing the increase of Internet use and digital gender gap.

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