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Internet Governance Weekly Brief (W7Y20): US charges Chinese military over Equifax hack; Huawei charged by US; BRICS to build digital sovereignty; USA Counterintelligence Strategy; FBI 2019 Internet Crime Report; Root Key Signing Key Ceremony Postponed; Facebook removes accounts; European Parliament on 5G effects on health; Russia asks tech firms to hand over data; Ethiopia approves law in hate speech…

Internet Governance Weekly Brief (W7Y20): US charges Chinese military over Equifax hack; Huawei charged by US; BRICS to build digital sovereignty; USA Counterintelligence Strategy; FBI 2019 Internet Crime Report; Root Key Signing Key Ceremony Postponed; Facebook removes accounts; European Parliament on 5G effects on health; Russia asks tech firms to hand over data; Ethiopia approves law in hate speech…

INDEX / MAIN NEWS

WEEKLY REVIEW

CYBER GEOPOLITICS

BRICS countries to build digital sovereignty

“Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are home to 3.2 billion people, 42% of the world’s population. In effect, these countries hold 42% of one of the most valuable resources on the planet: personal data. BRICS countries are not only increasingly aware that they are the main data producers, they also increasingly understand that free digital services offered by foreign corporations are not really free. They are paid with data and with sovereignty….”

UN rapporteur condemns UK hosting of Israeli spyware firm

« An independent UN investigator has criticised the British government’s decision to host a surveillance company whose technology is allegedly used by repressive regimes to intercept the private messages of journalists and human rights activists…”

Update on Digital Cooperation Recommendations Follow-Up Process

« The High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation was convened by the UN Secretary-General to advance global multi-stakeholder dialogue on how we can work better together to realize the potential of digital technologies for advancing human well-being while mitigating the risks….”

RIPE NCC Joins Council of Europe Partnership

“On 6 February, 2020, the RIPE NCC joined a partnership with the Council of Europe to develop recommendations for its member states on the development, use and regulation of digital technologies. The Council of Europe’s mission is to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law online…”

Chinese Telecommunications Conglomerate Huawei and Subsidiaries Charged in Racketeering Conspiracy and Conspiracy to Steal Trade Secrets

“A superseding indictment was returned yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (Huawei), the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and two U.S. subsidiaries with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)…”

Hamas hacking PA in campaign of cyber espionage

“Cybereason, an Israeli-run cybersecurity technology company headquartered in Boston, says it has discovered “recent, targeted attacks in the Middle East” aimed at carrying out “politically-driven cyber espionage.”..”

Russia Proposes Banning Foreign IT for Critical Infrastructure

« A Russian government agency has proposed banning the use of foreign information technology for critical national infrastructure, a draft government order shows, as Moscow moves to step up its control over the internet within its borders…”

Pressure Mounts for Swiss Parliamentary Probe into US, German Spying Operation

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – “Senior members of the Swiss legislature are demanding a parliamentary investigation into a spying operation in which US and German intelligence used a Swiss cryptography company as a front to eavesdrop on other countries…”

Merkel’s conservatives stop short of Huawei 5G ban in Germany

“Lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives have backed a position paper on 5G mobile networks that recommends tougher rules on foreign vendors while stopping short of banning China’s Huawei [HWT.UL], sources said….”

USA National Counterintelligence Strategy

“Protecting our Nation’s security and continuing to enhance the prosperity of our citizens are my top priorities. Ensuring that the United States is protected against espionage and other damaging intelligence activities conducted by our foreign adversaries is essential to meeting those goals….”

White House Official Says Huawei Has Secret Back Door to Extract Data

“The allegation that Huawei maintains access to the data that flows through its network is the latest step in a campaign to thwart the Chinese telecom giant’s rise…”

USA : Himes Calls on State Department to Advance International Cyber Norms

Today, The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released the third volume of the Committee’s investigation into Russian election interference. In part, SSCI recommended that the US exercise its leadership in creating international cyber norms.

USA: House members fear Census IT ‘debacle’ similar to Iowa caucus fiasco

Exactly a month out from when the Census Bureau will roll out its internet self-response platform for the 2020 population count, the Government Accountability Office has flagged significant IT challenges, “including those related to addressing cybersecurity weaknesses in a timely manner.”

Air Force designates new cyberspace, communications heritage center at SAFB

“The Air Force has designated its first-ever Cyberspace and Communications Heritage Center, dedicated to preserving and telling the story of cyber, communications and information systems personnel and missions…”

Senate report faults Obama administration’s paralysis on Russian election interference

The 54-page, partially redacted report marks the third installment of the panel’s five-volume series outlining the scope of Russian election interference in 2016.

PRIVACY – DATA PROTECTION

Russia’s security service tells internet firms to hand over user data

« Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has ordered some of the country’s major internet companies to give it continuous access to their systems, The Bell investigative website reported late on Tuesday, citing three sources at the firms….”

Russia fines Twitter, Facebook for keeping data abroad

A Moscow court on Thursday fined social networking giants Twitter and Facebook for ignoring a Russian law requiring them to store Russian citizens’ user data inside the country.

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information: Annual Report on Data Protection for the Reporting Year 2019

“The activity report presented today by the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) on the 2019 reporting year provides both an opportunity to look back and to take stock in order to consider future goals. In May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be valid for two years…”

UK governments share data on who’s looking for alcoholism and poverty help online

“Sheffield City Council claims to offer “free and confidential support” to people suffering from alcohol addiction. The UK council doesn’t keep information on who’s looking for such support quite so confidential…”

L.A. wins appeal in fight with Uber over scooter and bike data

“Los Angeles officials were right to suspend Uber’s permit to rent out scooters and electric bicycles in the city because the company refused to share real-time data on its riders’ trips, a hearing officer found Tuesday….”

Czech Republic: Data Protection Authority Investigates Avast for Selling Users’ Browsing History

« On Tuesday, the Czech data protection authority announced an investigation into antivirus company Avast, which was harvesting the browsing history of over 100 million users and then selling products based on that data to a slew of different companies including Google, Microsoft, and Home Depot. The move comes after a joint Motherboard and PCMag investigation uncovered details of the data collection through a series of leaked documents….”

French watchdog warns energy firms over Linky data

“Energy groups Engie and EDF have been formally warned for not respecting certain data privacy laws when using Linky smart meters, and given three months to conform….”

Facebook’s dating app rollout in Europe is delayed after regulators raise questions about data privacy

“Facebook Dating, the company’s in-app dating feature, was initially set to roll out to European users on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. However, the rollout has since been delayed to an unknown date after privacy regulators raised concerns about Facebook Dating’s compliance to new data privacy rules in the European Union….”

Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement

“The Trump administration has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal…”

Software error exposes the ID numbers for 1.26 million Danish citizens

“A software error in Denmark’s government tax portal has accidentally exposed the personal identification (CPR) numbers for 1.26 million Danish citizens, a fifth of the country’s total population…”

CYBER ATTACK

FBI 2019 Internet Crime Report Released

“Internet-enabled crimes and scams show no signs of letting up, according to data released by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in its 2019 Internet Crime Report. The last calendar year saw both the highest number of complaints and the highest dollar losses reported since the center was established in May 2000…”

Official: Puerto Rico govt loses $2.6M in phishing scam

« Puerto Rico’s government has lost more than $2.6 million after falling for an email phishing scam, according to a senior official…”

Facebook’s Twitter and Instagram accounts hijacked

“Last Friday, in full glare of the world, Facebook admins suddenly found themselves in an unseemly struggle to wrestle back control of the company’s Twitter accounts from attackers that had defaced them…”

App Used by Netanyahu’s Likud Leaks Israel’s Entire Voter Registry

“The Likud has uploaded the full register of Israeli voters to an application, causing the leak of personal data on 6,453,254 citizens. The information includes the full names, identity card numbers, addresses and gender of every single eligible voter in Israel, as well as the phone numbers and other personal details of some of them…” 

Iran Says Foils Cyberattack Targeting Internet Providers

“Iran repelled a cyberattack on Saturday that disrupted the country’s internet services for an hour, a telecommunications ministry official said…”

Netherlands University Pays $240,000 After Targeted Ransomware Attack

“The University of Maastricht, The Netherlands (UM), has paid a ransom of 30 Bitcoins (about $240,000 at the time, $294,000 today) for a decryption key to the CLOP ransomware. UM has been open and forthcoming on the details of the attack, providing detailed insight into a classic targeted ransomware attack…”

Miami : Statement Regarding Ransomware Investigation

 “On Tuesday, the North Miami Beach Police Department determined that it was impacted by ransomware. The Department immediately contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Miami-Dade Police Department, and an investigation is ongoing….”

Iowa Fiasco Highlights Security Risks in US Vote, Officials Say

US officials and cyber experts warned Tuesday that the voting debacle in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa underscored the vulnerabilities in the country’s election infrastructure in everything from hacking to trust-eroding conspiracy theories.

Equifax: US charges four Chinese military officers over huge hack

« The US has charged four Chinese military officers over the huge cyber-attack of credit rating giant Equifax.

More than 147 million Americans were affected in 2017 when hackers stole sensitive personal data including names and addresses…”

China denies cybertheft following Equifax accusations

“China denied involvement in any hacking activities on Tuesday after the United States indicted four members of the Chinese military for allegedly breaking into the computer networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of people…”

Government’s fraud algorithm SyRI breaks human rights, privacy law

The Dutch government’s algorithm-based fraud detection system SyRI should be dropped because it conflicts with the European treaty on human rights and with privacy legislation, judges in The Hague ruled on Wednesday.

Powerful Cyber Attack Takes Down 25% Of Iranian Internet

« Hot on the heels of a “serious” cyber-attack that compromised United Nations servers, and in the same week that the head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, warned of the global financial implications of cyber-attacks, Iran has seemingly come under cyber-attack. Indeed, so powerful was the impact of this alleged attack that the internet was disrupted across the country…”

SECURITY

ICANN: Root Key Signing Key Ceremony Postponed

“The 40th Root Key Signing Key Ceremony, originally scheduled for 12 February 2020 in El Segundo, California, has been postponed. One of the security mechanisms that protects the contents of the secure safes was found to be malfunctioning. The safes contain critical material used in the ceremonies, including but not limited to the hardware security modules that contain the key itself…”

DIGITAL ECONOMY

Digital Remittances Reach Record of $96 Billion YoY, High Fees Open Door for Cryptocurrencies

« In a globalized world where labor follows capital, the remittance industry has been growing constantly in both volume and users. Traditional providers like banks and money transfer companies have been charging high fees for their services which creates opportunities for alternative digital platforms and decentralized cryptocurrencies…”

Global tax rewrite could boost governments’ revenues by $100 billion, OECD says

« Rewriting cross-border corporate tax rules could increase governments’ tax revenues by up to 4%, or $100 billion annually, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation estimated on Thursday…”

UN agency urges African countries to embrace green growth economic strategies

“The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA) on Monday called on African countries to craft development strategies that prioritize and promote a sustainable blue economy, green growth and smart cities…”

Ukraine, EU sign new EUR 25 mln program to support digital economy

“The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the European Union signed a new program for supporting e-governance and digital economy in Ukraine in the amount of EUR 25 million, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has stated…”

Fed chair on digital dollar plans: Facebook’s Libra a ‘wake-up call’

“In a hearing today of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that Facebook’s work on a digital currency through Libra has shaped the U.S. central bank’s progress on a central bank digital currency (CBDC)…”

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

FBI is investigating more than 1,000 cases of Chinese theft of US technology

“Members of the US government held a conference in Washington this week on the topic of Chinese theft of intellectual property from US technology firms and the US academic sector…”

CONTENT

Singapore accounts for half of Netflix government takedown demands

“Netflix says it took down nine pieces of content across its global platform since it began operations 23 years ago, after receiving government demands to do so. The majority, five of such requests, came from the Singapore government, which issued its most recent demand earlier this year involving The Last Hangover….”

Concern over Coronavirus Leading to Global Spread of Fake Pharmacy Spam

« High levels of concern around the Coronavirus are currently being used to increase the online popularity of spam campaigns designed to spread fake news and drive unsuspecting users to dubious online drug stores…”

Facebook Taps Reuters for Paid Fact-Checking Program to Label Deepfakes, Misinformation

« following the run-up into the 2020 U.S. election, Reuters announced a deal using Facebook beneath that the giant social-networking company will pay the worldwide information service to fact-check data, video and images about Facebook and Instagram…”

UK broadcasting watchdog proposed as online harms regulator

“The announcement comes as part of the UK’s Online Harms measures which attempt to clamp down on offensive content online. The new legislation aims to enforce a duty of care ‘to keep users safe’ from harmful content on platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which Ofcom would be responsible for policing…”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

2020 AI for Good Global Summit to scale AI-powered  problem solving for global impact

« Ten years remain to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development ​Goals (SDGs). Leaders in AI and humanitarian action will convene at the 2020 AI for Good Global Summit with strong intent to ensure that ‘AI for Good’ solutions achieve a scale matching that of the ambitions captured by the SDGs…”

CHILD ONLINE PROTECTION

Microsoft tip led to discovery of more than 190 child porn images on Michigan man’s computer, police say

« An Ann Arbor man faces up to four years in prison after Microsoft Online Operations staffers spotted suspected child pornography coming from the man’s internet address…”

Prime Minister reckons a booklet will keep Aussie kids safe online

« Announcing the release of a booklet targeted at those with kids under the age of five, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Online Safety for under 5s, which was developed by the eSafety Commissioner, would help keep more children safe…”

One million school children to receive online safety certification: UNICEF

« One million school children across Bangladesh are expected to receive online safety certifications within the next year, making their online experience safer…”

INFRASTRUCTURE

LTA signs Abidjan Protocol -to comply with Accession Act to Free Roaming in the West Africa

« Liberia Telecommunications Authority, Liberia becomes the ninth member of the Abidjan Protocol group, and by so doing, has paved the way for the remaining countries of ECOWAS to take the next step to bring down the telecommunications barriers in the region. The Abidjan Protocol is to make Free Roaming a reality across all countries of West Africa…”

Israel becomes first nation to cyber regulate hazardous materials industry

“Hazardous materials can apply to everything from facilities for water treatment, to airports, to seaports, to pharmaceutical companies, to hospitals, to swimming pools to even wineries…”

CONTENT

Facebook : Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From Russia, Iran, Vietnam and Myanmar

« Today, we removed three unconnected networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in foreign or government interference — which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a government or foreign actor — on Facebook and Instagram…”

Ethiopia approves controversial law curbing hate speech

« Ethiopian lawmakers on Thursday approved a controversial law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation, especially online, just months ahead of a major election… »

‘Infodemic’: World Health Officials Aim To Fight Rising Misinformation About Coronavirus

« From epidemic to “infodemic;” that’s how the World Health Organization is characterizing the sudden rise of misinformation related to the coronavirus…”

Ofcom to be put in charge of regulating internet in UK

« Ofcom will be put in charge of regulating the internet, the government has announced, with executives at internet firms potentially facing substantial fines or even prison sentences if they fail to protect users from “harmful and illegal content” online…”

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Apple fined for slowing down old iPhones

« Apple has been fined 25 million euros (£21m, $27m) for deliberately slowing down older iPhone models without making it clear to consumers.

The fine was imposed by France’s competition and fraud watchdog DGCCRF, which said consumers were not warned…”

Antitrust officials ordered Facebook, Amazon, and other tech giants to disclose 10 years of acquisition documents

« United States antitrust officials have ordered the country’s top tech companies to hand over a decade’s worth of information on their acquisitions of competitor firms, in a move aimed at determining how giants like Amazon and Facebook have used acquisitions to become so dominant…”

Google starts appeal against £2bn shopping fine

« Google’s appeal against a huge fine imposed by the European Commission over its alleged abuse of power in promoting its own shopping comparison service will be heard over the next three days…”

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

China to relax its internet restrictions for 100,000 students hit by Australia’s coronavirus travel ban

« China has agreed to relax its internet restrictions, after lobbying from the higher education sector, so international students can study online while they are banned from Australia during the coronavirus outbreak.

Currently more than 100,000 Chinese students, who already have Australian student visas and were planning on commencing their studies this month, are stranded outside of Australia as a result of the government’s 14-day travel ban from mainland China…”

Coronavirus forces world’s largest work-from-home experiment

« While factories, shops, hotels and restaurants are warning about plunging foot traffic that is transforming city centers into ghost towns, behind the closed doors of apartments and suburban homes, thousands of businesses are trying to figure out how to stay operational in a virtual world…”

Safer Internet Day: Google announces $1M child online safety fund in Africa

“In recognition of Safer Internet Day today, Google has announced a $1M pan-African Google.org fund to support innovative ideas around privacy, trust and safety for families online across sub-Saharan Africa…”

MWC Barcelona 2020 cancelled due to Coronavirus outbreak.

« Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem…”

China introduces novel coronavirus close contact detection app

China has rolled out a mobile app “close contact detector,” enabling people to check whether they were at the risk of catching the novel coronavirus.

ENCRYPTION

WhatsApp seized on US allegations against Huawei to defend encryption against the government’s demands for backdoors

« Head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart did an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, announcing that the Facebook-owned messaging platform has hit 2 billion users. Cathcart also stressed that WhatsApp plans to hold the line against pressure from the US government to build ways to infiltrate WhatsApp encrypted messaging for law enforcement….”

DIGITAL HEALTH

European Parliament: Effects of 5G wireless communication on human health

« The fifth generation of telecommunications technologies, 5G, is fundamental to achieving a European gigabit society by 2025. The aim to cover all urban areas, railways and major roads with uninterrupted fifth generation wireless communication can only be achieved by creating a very dense network of antennas and transmitters. In other words, the number of higher frequency base stations and other devices will increase significantly…”

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