Category Archives: Governing Bodies

France won’t block public Wi-Fi or ban Tor, PM says

Andrii Degeler at Ars Technica UK: Public Wi-Fi networks and Tor won’t be blocked or forbidden in France in the near future, even during a state of emergency, despite the country’s Ministry of Interior reportedly considering it.

Days after the reports on the proposal surfaced in the French newspaper Le Monde, the country’s prime minister Manuel Valls said he had never heard of such requests by police. “A ban on Wi-Fi is not a course of action envisaged,” he added according to The Connexxion.

Valls also said he wasn’t in favour of banning Tor, and denied any knowledge of the police authorities requesting a law to “require [service] providers to give security forces access codes.”

“Internet is a freedom, is an extraordinary means of communication between people, it is a benefit to the economy,” Valls said. “It is also a means for terrorists to communicate and spread their totalitarian ideology. The police must take in all of these aspects to improve their fight against terrorism, but the measures we take must be effective.”

Valls

Unlike the proposal to ban Tor, the idea of closing down public Wi-Fi networks in a state of emergency has some rationale. Police believe it’s easier to track down criminals and terrorists if they use data connections other than shared hotspots on the streets. France’s current state of emergency, which was enacted after the recent attacks in Paris, will persist until at least February 26, 2016.

The problem is that free Wi-Fi also allows civilians to find vital information during an emergency, such as where the nearest shelter is, or if any transportation is running. This may outweigh the perceived benefits of banning the hotspots, although both proposals are extremely hard to enforce regardless.

Giving the authorities a backdoor into virtually any device connected to the Internet has been also widely discussed in the UK over the past few weeks. The Investigative Powers Bill, also known as the Snooper’s Charter, would make it an Internet service provider’s legal duty to keep users’ browsing history for a year. The initiative was met with a wave of criticism from ISPs and industry experts.

Sources:

Ars Technica UK – France won’t block public Wi-Fi or ban Tor, PM says

Wired UK – No, France won’t be banning public Wi-Fi or Tor

Africa Needs More Youth Engagement Initiatives, Says Aficta

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201511110086.html

One major challenge Africa has, is not giving the youths more opportunity to express their talents and innovation in governance. That partly may have resulted in very low engagement of youths in problem solving among many African states.

However, as part of its vision to meet African youths’ employment challenges and assist government of the region in providing and creating jobs opportunities, Africa Information and Communication Technologies Alliance, AfICTA has disclosed that it is committed to creating one million jobs in Africa by the year 2020.

This was part of the declaration released at the end of its 3rd summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa recently.

Recall that on 18th February 2009 in Addis Ababa, African heads of state declared 2009-2019 as the decade of youth development in Africa. They resolved to advance youth development and ensure increased investments in youth development programmes at national levels so as to create employment.

The Vice-Chair, Egyptian ICT Alliance & Chief Executive Officer ECCO Outsourcing Egypt and Chair AfICTA Programme/Project Committee, Mr Alaa El Khishen who articulated the initiative in his presentation during the summit said that “AfICTA is able to deliver on this commitment especially with support of traditional captive investors and relevant stakeholders that will be engaged.”

Global competitiveness

Meanwhile, the summit among other declarations expressed support for the renewal of the Internet Governance Forum, IGF, mandate. Considering the inherent value of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the summit also declared support for the goals and motivate the required national and international political will.

Given that citizens, users and diverse stakeholders views are important to public policy articulation and implementation with respect to the realization of the SDGs, participants from the forum also expressed support for enhanced cooperation within the context of multi-stakeholderism involving governments, private sector, civil society, and technical and academia community stakeholders. Concerned about the need to sustain the rise of Africa, the forum further urged the African Union (AU) and African governments to partner with all stakeholders including the private sector in the spirit of enhanced cooperation and collaboration.

Lamenting the dearth of Internet domain name uptake in Africa, the summit among other things urged African governments to express pride in their ccTLD identity and use them in governance to create the necessary “locomotive” effect to boost demand.

Affirming that Internet access in particular engenders sustainable development and prosperity, the forum urged African national governments and parliaments in particular to enact laws, articulate strategies and policies that promote trust and confidence on the Internet.

Microsoft to host data in Germany, allegedly to hide it from US intelligence agencies

James Vincent at The Verge: Microsoft is opening new data centers in Germany to allow European customers to hide their digital information from US government surveillance. The new data centers will open in late 2016 and will be operated by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. However, The Financial Times notes that customers will have to pay extra to store their data in this way.

“These new data centre regions will enable customers to use the full power of Microsoft’s cloud in Germany […] and ensure that a German company retains control of the data,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at a press conference in Berlin this morning.

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The announcement is the latest move in an ongoing battle between US tech companies and the American government over access to foreign-held data. Companies like Microsoft and Google want to retain the trust of their users after the Snowden revelations, but have to contend with American police and spy agencies who want the same privileged access they’ve always enjoyed.

An ongoing legal battle between Microsoft and a New York court exemplifies the debate, with the US authorities demanding access to the emails of an American citizen stored in Ireland and Microsoft refusing to hand over the data.

Although Microsoft could still lose in this particular case, opening new data centers in Germany will provide a future safeguard against US demands for data.

The company has also announced plans for new data centers in the UK, but Germany’s data-protection laws are some of the most rigorous in Europe. By placing its data centers under the control of a Germany company as a “data trustee,” Microsoft is forcing any requests for information to be routed through Germany authorities.

It’s an approach that’s comparable to Apple’s use of encryption that even the iPhone-maker can’t break — theoretically taking away the option of government authorities forcing the company to give up users’ data.

However, none of these tactics are ever completely secure. For example, the Snowden revelations showed that despite Europe’s outward desire for data sovereignty, many local spy agencies still funneled European citizens’ data to the NSA. Paul Miller, an analyst for Forrester, notes that although Microsoft is confident in the security of German servers, this arrangement has yet to be tested in the courts. “To be sure, we must wait for the first legal challenge. And the appeal. And the counter-appeal,” said Miller.

More importantly, though, Microsoft’s decision could end up affecting more than just its own users. If the German trustee model becomes a recognized standard for data security, then customers of other cloud computing firms like Google and Amazon could demand similar arrangements. EU officials might also be emboldened by the move.

Last month, the EU Court of Justice invalidated the longstanding Safe Harbor treaty allowing US companies to send data on European citizens back to America. The treaty is currently being renegotiated, and Microsoft’s support for the data trustee model could feed into these debates.

Sources:

The Verge: Microsoft will host data in Germany to hide it from US spies

PR Newsire UK: Microsoft Announces Plans to Offer Cloud Services from German Datacenters

Microsoft Germany: Microsoft Cloud in Deutschland

America slow to cede Internet control

Author: Alex Pearlman
Source: Pri.org
Date: October 15th, 2015

A clear Wi-Fi connection doesn’t just appear out of thin air. The Internet, like all types of man-made infrastructure, has regulations and dedicated human monitors. The ultimate authority, perhaps unknown to many of its global users, has been at the US Department of Commerce.

Now that setup is changing, leaving the future of global Internet governance in uncertain terrain and sparking an intense debate over who the overseers of the Internet should be and how they should operate. The argument is rife with competing national and corporate interests and could directly impact how the Internet grows for decades to come.

In August the Department of Commerce delayed, at least for another year, a long-standing White House plan to give up sole oversight of the group that oversees basic functionality of the Internet, the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a semiautonomous nonprofit.

ICANN, based in Los Angeles, has three main components, responsible for the domain name system (DNS), the Internet protocol (IP) numbers that identify computers connected to the Web and the system used to connect computers to one another.  But in June the House of Representatives passed a bill mandating congressional review of the proposed transfer of the US-controlled ICANN to a global body or international group, citing concerns about influence by authoritarian regimes.

Potential: Eventually, the hope is that ICANN will be run through a mandate from an international body made up of a mixture of corporations, civil society groups and representatives from the world’s governments, a model that has been dubbed multistakeholder. The new incarnation of ICANN will eventually decide who’s in charge and how to best manage a free and open Internet. But getting ICANN to that point is easier said than done.

Issue: Although many experts believe the US has done a good job guaranteeing Internet continuity, what’s next may not be easy. A draft proposal from ICANN’s internal transition committee has quickly become divisive, as concern over policies that seem to prioritize American corporate interests threaten negotiations for control of the Web. A tug of war over jurisdiction, governmental involvement and human rights law is brewing.

“The IANA proposal does not adequately address the issue of diversity or human rights within ICANN,” said Sukumar. “We see primarily American corporations and organizations, and they tend to aggressively dominate the debate.”  Many members of a major initiative led by Bildt, the Global Commission on Internet Governance, agree that the lack of diversity in ICANN is stark.

Further Criticism:  “It’s hard to believe how our institutions are so underdeveloped in this space,” said Eileen Donohoe, an Internet expert and a former US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council.

She compared the growth of the Internet to a rain forest, with multiple co-existing species that make up parts of the whole and contribute to the ecosystem. It’s blooming chaotically, growing far beyond what American borders can contain.

 

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Flooding the system: Climate change could knock the Internet offline

Author: Joshua Eaton
Source: Aljazeera America
Date: October 12, 2015
Additional Source: The GroundTruth Project

While the global Internet seems a genuine model of resilience, events like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012 have shown how quickly it can break down on a local level. With climate change set to increase the intensity and frequency of severe weather, there is a fear that extreme events could unpredictably wreak havoc on parts of the Internet.

The Internet depends on buildings, wires, servers and conduits. And that physical infrastructure is just as vulnerable as any other. That has government, industry and nonprofits all working to build sturdier infrastructure before the next catastrophic storm hits.

With temperatures rising and sea levels mounting, storms like Katrina will become both more common and more dangerous, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment. A stretch of the East Coast between North Carolina and Massachusetts will be especially vulnerable to storm surge — a wall of ocean water pushed onto shore — as it experiences considerably greater sea level rise than the worldwide average, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study. Other parts of the country will continue to see increases in flooding, droughts and wildfires, detrimentally affecting critical infrastructure.

Unlike some other parts of critical infrastructure, the Internet is built with redundancies. Global Internet traffic was quickly rerouted when major network hubs in New York City went down during Sandy, according to separate analyses of network traffic by Dyn and the RIPE Network Coordination Center. Other major storms, like Katrina, have also had little effect on the global flow of Internet traffic.  But that does not mean local outages can’t cause big problems.

Many service providers in New York have reinforced their infrastructure since Hurricane Sandy, switching from easily damaged copper cables to flood-resistant fiber optics or relocating backup power to higher floors. But it’s not just New York City’s telecom infrastructure that’s at risk.

Four months before Sandy, severe thunderstorms took down an Amazon data center in northern Virginia, temporarily bringing down Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest. Earlier this year, thousands of people in western Australia lost Internet access when temperatures hit 111 degrees Fahrenheit and knocked out an iiNet data center.

Example: As a vulnerable coastal city Boston is working to move its government data servers to safer locations outside of the central hub. However, as 90% of the local area relies on the private company Comcast for internet service, if Comcast went down due to an environmental concern, most of the city would loose connection with it.
Risk of service providers creating a monopoly: Franklin-Hodge hopes the city can diversify its broadband market and build more resilient infrastructure by encouraging greater competition. But he won’t rule out regulation, if that’s what it takes.

“Their broadband services are more or less unregulated, and there is no market pressure that is pushing them to provide better resiliency or redundancy,” he said of Comcast. “There’s no governmental oversight organization that is monitoring what they’re doing. That is a very high risk.”

Solution: Now groups in New York City, Silicon Valley, Detroit and elsewhere are trying to buck that trend with small, decentralized networks that can plug into the broader Internet or provide local communication if Internet access goes down.

he goal isn’t just to build more durable machines, according to Greta Byrum, a senior field analyst for New America’s Resilient Communities program. The project also aims to build the human connections, technical skills and local knowledge that will make those machines useful in an emergency.

“What we see over and over again is it’s individual and citizen-based responses that are really vital for the survival of communities … We need to have local and small-scale and easily fixed communications systems in an emergency or disaster,” she said.

 

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WikiLeaks: ISPs to hand over copyright infringer details under TPP

Corinne Reichert at ZDNet: The TPP will force ISPs to give up the details of customers who allegedly infringe copyright and allow rights holders to seek both compensatory and punitive damages as well as loss of profit, according to WikiLeaks.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will force internet service providers (ISPs) to give up the details of copyright infringers so that rights holders can protect and enforce their copyright through criminal and civil means with few limitations, according to the intellectual property chapter released by WikiLeaks over the weekend.

The TPP, which reached agreement last week after talks had stalled for years over digital rights and other issues, will regulate trade between Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile.

However, with the full text of the agreement yet to be published, citizens of those 12 countries have only had the summaries of varying detail released by the parties to go on — until WikiLeaks published a leaked copy [PDF] of what it purports to be the intellectual property chapter.

“This is the highly sort-after [sic] secret ‘final’ agreed version of the TPP chapter on intellectual property rights,” the WikiLeaks document says.

“There is still a finishing ‘legal scrub’ of the document meant to occur, but there are to be no more negotiations between the parties … The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, that the 12 nations had managed to reach an accord after five and half years of negotiations.”

Section G of the leaked chapter covers the enabling of rights owners to protect digital copies of their “works, performances, and phonograms”, giving authors the exclusive right to mandate the terms of access to their works, while Section H discusses enforcement mechanisms for online copyright infringement.

Each party to the TPP must also pre-establish a framework for calculating damages and additional damages under H7, with the former to be compensatory for the harm suffered by the rights holder, as well as punitive to deter future copyright infringement (H9), and the latter to take into account the nature of the infringement and again the need for deterrence (H10).

Section I of the chapter covers internet service providers (ISPs), with Article I1(1) of the leaked document saying that parties must build a framework providing “legal incentives” for ISPs to assist copyright owners in deterring the transmission and storage of copyrighted material. In addition, each country’s laws must ensure that ISPs are not made liable for customers who have used their network to infringe on copyright.

Under Article I3, however, ISPs will be required, upon receiving a notification from the rights holder, “to expeditiously remove or disable access to material residing on their networks or systems upon obtaining actual knowledge of the infringement”.

To combat online piracy, Article H3(2) states that all TPP members must now collect, analyse, and publish data on copyright infringement, and use this to come up with an effective strategy for preventing and combating future infringements.

The TPP has yet to be signed and ratified by the 12 Pacific Rim nations that are parties to it.

Sources:

ZDNet: WikiLeaks: ISPs to hand over copyright infringer details under TPP

WikiLeaks: TPP Treaty: Intellectual Property Rights Chapter, Consolidated Text (October 5, 2015)

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The Internet Can Continue Without US Government Oversight

ICANN

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names, is looking to convince the US government that it can overlook the infrastructure of the Internet without governmental assistance.

As a non-profit (with individuals from all of the world) that’s been in operation since 1998, ICANN has worked to connect individuals from around the world via unique identifiers, which help to form one global Internet. These global identifiers known as the domain name system have primarily been maintained in partnership with the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

While this partnership has been somewhat tolerable since its inception in 1998, many in the global community have voiced concern over the predominate US control of the Internet as a western system. With the click of a key, the US government could potentially cripple the global Internet with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which changes to the Domain Name System’s (DNS) root zone file and IP address allocation––a system coordinated by NTIA.

Given Edward Snowden’s recent revelations regarding US surveillance, both at home and abroad, leaders in the public and private sector realize it’s time to review US governmental involvement in Internet maintenance.

In April of 2014, NTIA stated that it would relinquish its current responsibilities as soon as ICANN produces a proposal that outlines an efficient and seamless transition of responsibilities to the Internet community.

For more information on the proposal and Fadi Chehadé’s, ICANN’s CEO, meeting with Silicon Valley executives please review the linked article on InformationWeek