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Internet Governance Weekly Brief (W12Y20): Statements from European Commission, EDPB, BEREC on COVID-19; EU urges streaming platforms to slow down traffic due to COVID-19; Techs platforms to fight COVID-19 disinformation…

Internet Governance Weekly Brief (W12Y20): Statements from European Commission, EDPB, BEREC on COVID-19; EU urges streaming platforms to slow down traffic due to COVID-19; Techs platforms to fight COVID-19 disinformation…






COVID-19: Statement – Governments must promote and protect access to and free flow of information during pandemic, say international media freedom experts

“In light of the growing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the monitors for freedom of expression and freedom of the media for the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, and the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe issued the following joint statement:…”

Statement of the EDPB Chair on the processing of personal data in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak

“Andrea Jelinek, Chair of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), said: “Data protection rules (such as GDPR) do not hinder measures taken in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. However, I would like to underline that, even in these exceptional times, the data controller must ensure the protection of the personal data of the data subjects. Therefore, a number of considerations should be taken into account to guarantee the lawful processing of personal data….”

Joint Statement from the Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on coping with the increased demand for network connectivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic

« All EU governments, civil society, businesses and citizens are jointly fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic. Several Member States have taken measures to limit physical social contacts: schools are closed and many employees are working remotely from home. Remote schooling, teleworking and increased use of streaming services and online gaming have increased the demand for internet capacity….”

Internet under strain from streaming services during COVID-19 crisis: European Commission

“EU Industry Chief Thierry Breton has called on video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Alphabet unit YouTube to take measures to prevent Internet gridlock caused by people teleworking and streaming at home due to the coronavirus outbreak….”

EU on calls streaming platforms to ease pressure on internet capacity

“European Union Industry Chief Thierry Breton on Wednesday called on streaming platforms to take measures to prevent internet congestion caused by thousands of people teleworking due to the coronavirus outbreak….”

European Commission: Applications welcome from startups and SMEs with innovative solutions to tackle Coronavirus outbreak

“The European Commission is calling for startups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak to apply urgently to the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council….”

European mobile operators share data for coronavirus fight

“Mobile carriers are sharing data with the health authorities in Italy, Germany and Austria, helping to fight coronavirus by monitoring whether people are complying with curbs on movement while at the same time respecting Europe’s privacy laws….”

EU industry touts 3D printing as ‘immediate solution’ to COVID-19 shortages

« The EU’s additive manufacturing sector is rallying the potential benefits of 3D printing technologies for aiding in the shortage of vital health equipment needed for treating coronavirus patients across Europe….”

COVID-19: Austria takes precautionary measures for internet use, despite ‘buffer’ in capacities

“The spread of the coronavirus is becoming a stress test for Austria’s internet infrastructure, as internet traffic exploded virtually overnight. To protect the country’s capacities, the regulatory authority RTR has given the green light for certain online services, like video streaming, to be throttled. But Austria’s second-largest provider told EURACTIV that the country’s networks are not yet fully utilised….”

Israel to track mobile phones of suspected coronavirus cases

“Israel’s government has approved emergency measures to track people suspected or confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus by monitoring their mobile phones, immediately raising privacy concerns in the country….”

Trump Administration Wants To Use Americans’ Location Data To Track The Coronavirus

“The Trump administration is in discussions with the tech industry, including Facebook and Google, about how to use Americans’ cellphone location data to track the spread of the novel coronavirus….”

US Health Department Website Attacked Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“The website of the U.S. Health and Human Services was attacked amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials confirmed on Monday.

A National Security Council spokesman said in a statement to news outlets that the council became aware “of a cyber incident related to the Health and Human Services computer networks and the federal government is investigating this incident thoroughly….”

US Officials: Foreign Disinformation Is Stoking Virus Fears

“The Trump administration is alleging that a foreign disinformation campaign is underway aimed at spreading fear in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, three U.S. officials said Monday….”

Taiwan accuses China of waging cyber ‘war’ to disrupt virus fight 

“Taiwan’s foreign minister on Saturday accused giant neighbour China of waging cyber “war” on the island to disrupt its fight against the coronavirus by using fake news, as the island Beijing claims as its own reported a jump in new cases….”

CISA Outlines VPN Best Practices for Supporting Teleworkers

“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert on Friday outlining virtual private network (VPN) best practices for organizations supporting remote workforces…”

Major tech platforms say they’re ‘jointly combating fraud and misinformation’ about COVID-19

“A group of the biggest technology companies in the US say they have banded together in a commitment to fight coronavirus-related fraud and misinformation. The group includes Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube. All seven companies sent out a joint statement Monday evening announcing the effort….”

Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation to sow panic in West, EU document says

“Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters…”

Netflix to cut European traffic by 25% due to coronavirus

“Netflix said on Thursday it would reduce its bit rates across all its streams in Europe, in effect cutting traffic on its European networks by 25% to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the coronavirus crisis….”

WhatsApp launches Coronavirus Information Hub

WhatsApp today announces the launch of two initiatives in support of the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic: the global launch of the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and UNDP, and a $1m donation to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

CYU.S. Health Department Site Hit With DDoS Cyber Attack

“The United States Health and Human Services Department’s web site was hit with a DDoS cyber attack Sunday night to take it offline in the middle of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a tremendous spike in people searching for HHS information about the Coronvirus as shown by the graph below….”

Czech hospital hit by cyberattack while in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak

“The Brno University Hospital in the city of Brno, Czech Republic, has been hit by a cyberattack right in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak that is picking up steam in the small central European country…”

Self-driving technology companies suspend testing on virus fears

“Self-driving technology companies, including Waymo, Cruise and Uber, have suspended autonomous car testing that involves backup drivers, joining corporate America to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus….”

Facebook announces $100 million program for small businesses impacted by coronavirus

« Facebook on Tuesday announced a $100 million program to help small businesses as governments throughout the country urge gyms and restaurants to close their doors to slow the coronavirus pandemic….”

COVID-19 Concerns may Boost Ecommerce Says Study

“A recent study suggests that COVID–19 concerns may boost e-commerce as consumers avoid going to stores….”


Justice Department Drops Criminal Trial against Russian Firms Indicted by Mueller

“The Justice Department on Monday abandoned plans to move forward with a criminal trial against two Russian firms indicted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller for financing efforts to interfere in the 2016 election….”

Dozens charged in Atlanta-based money laundering operation that funneled $30 million in proceeds from computer fraud schemes, romance scams, and retirement account fraud

“Federal agents have arrested twenty-four individuals for their involvement in a large-scale fraud and money laundering operation that targeted citizens, corporations, and financial institutions throughout the United States. Business email compromise schemes, romance fraud scams, and retirement account scams, among other frauds, duped numerous victims into losing more than $30 million….”

Russia-based hackers and cyber criminals have been showing most aggressive spying activity in Latvia – report

“Russia-based groups of hackers and cyber criminals, suspected by Western countries of collaboration with Russian secret services, showed the most aggressive espionage activity in Latvia last year, according of the 2019 report released by the State Security Service (VDD)….”


Russia central bank calls digital currency circulation ‘unjustified risk’

“The long-awaited Russian attempt at regulating digital currencies has taken another twist today, following revelations from a senior official at the Bank of Russia suggesting the issuance and circulation of digital currencies could be banned….”


Commonwealth tackle elections cybersecurity threat

“Technology brings both benefit and risk to elections – but there are solutions that can defend the process from cybersecurity threats.

This is the message from a new Commonwealth best practice guide to cybersecurity in elections.

The product has been developed to help election management bodies identify and manage cybersecurity risks….”

New whitepaper: Cybersecurity Awareness in the Commonwealth of Nations

“The Cybersecurity Tech Accord is proud today to announce the release of a new whitepaper, Cybersecurity Awareness in the Commonwealth of Nations developed in partnership with the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). The paper, a draft of which was first released for comment last October, discusses the importance of national efforts to develop cybersecurity awareness at all levels of a society, provides industry guidance to support such programs, and catalogues awareness raising activities taking place across the 53 states that make up the Commonwealth of Nations….”

Singapore to Introduce Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme

“As part of the Safer Cyberspace Masterplan, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore is set to launch the Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme (CLS). For the time being, CSA will extend its rating-based CLS for Wi-Fi routers and IoT devices like smart home hubs….”

Pakistan: Regulator issues guidelines on cyber security for insurers

“The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has issued guidelines on cyber security framework for the insurance sector, setting out principles to make the information technology systems of insurance companies and their partners secure and resilient….”


GHANA: Switzerland invests €6.1 million for sustainable recycling of electronic waste

The second phase of the Sustainable Recycling Industries Project (SRI) has officially been launched on the 5th of March 2020 in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Financially supported by Switzerland to the tune of EUR 6.1 million, this phase will run for a period of 4 years. It represents an effective solution to the problem of electronic waste in Ghana.


Report calls for web pre-screening to end UK’s child abuse ‘explosion’

“A UK inquiry into child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet has recommended that the government require apps to pre-screen images before publishing them, in order to tackle “an explosion” in images of child sex abuse….”


Apple fined €1.1bn by France over anti-competitive practices

“Apple has been fined €1.1 billion (£1bn) by antitrust authorities in France, who claim that the company struck deals to maintain high prices.

The regulators say that the company’s deals with resellers Tech Data and Ingram Micro obliged them to ‘align’ their prices with Apple’s own pricing. The deals related to iPads, Macs and Macbooks….”


California Issues More Modifications to CCPA Data Privacy Law – Comments on modifications related to compliance with the data privacy law are due March 27

“California’s Department of Justice has released additional modifications to the proposed regulations for businesses to comply with the state’s data privacy law that took effect this year.

The modifications to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) proposed regulations are based on comments received in February and are now open for comment through March 27….”


Maryland Passes Digital Advertising Service Tax

« With the clock ticking down toward a coronavirus-induced legislative shutdown Thursday, Maryland lawmakers on Wednesday night pushed through a 6% tax on sales of digital goods. The bill (H.B. 932) passed the House of Delegates with an 89 to 45 vote, after amendments in the state senate a day before. Next, it heads to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan (R)….”

Digital transformation: EU paves the way for a stronger, more ambitious partnership with Africa

“The European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy today proposed the basis for a new strategy with Africa….”


ITU launches new guidelines to assist countries develop national emergency telecommunication plans

In the face of the global coronavirus crisis, as in any other emergency, the speed and efficiency of our response is proportional to the level of preparedness. To help countries better manage disaster response activities at a time when the frequency, intensity and human and economic impact of disasters is on the rise worldwide, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launches new guidelines for the development and implementation of National Emergency Telecommunication Plans.

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