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Privacy Experts Urge U.S. to Engage in Global Debate, but Get Own House in Order

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2010 – The United States needs to act as a world leader by using its talents to help develop an innovative global privacy framework, but it must get its own house in order to succeed, said privacy experts Friday at an event hosted by the Commerce Department.

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WASHINGTON, May 7, 2010 – The United States needs to act as a world leader by using its talents to help develop an innovative global privacy framework, but first it must get its own house in order, said privacy experts Friday.

At the Privacy and Innovation Symposium at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke opened the discussion by saying it’s time to acknowledge that the Internet, with more than 1 billion users worldwide, “is no longer in startup mode.”

Because of its reach and scope, it’s important to develop a new privacy framework that ensures consumer privacy while ensuring the nation’s prosperity, he said.

In the first panel discussion, Nicole Wong, vice president and deputy general counsel for Google, said it’s important as the United States ponders making a new framework, to consider that most data is moving onto servers not based in the content owner’s country of residence. “There is a premise in data protection authorities’ heads that their jurisdiction is about the location of data in a country,” she said. “We all know that things are moving to [cloud computing]. Any framework set on top of [geographical borders] will fail…We’re trying to get information across borders in a way that best serves users.”

Larry Irving, vice president of global affairs with Hewlett-Packard and a former head of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said when he was at Commerce in the 1990s they discussed privacy issues and it was all about consumer trust and that still holds true today.

Lesile Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said: “Trust is what we need to continue building…but it’s important that we understand that privacy is more than just trust in the applications, it’s a core American value…and America runs on the internet” now.

Wong agreed that trust is a key issue and said that today smart engineers and technologist are able to provide consumers with “meaningful choices” on a granular level that can give them more control over their privacy, which in turn will build their trust in e-commerce.

She added that because a unique technology is coming around the corner every minute, it’s extraordinarily difficult to regulate technologies and their use, especially when privacy cultures differ greatly by country.

For example, she said Google’s StreetView technology allowing pictures of street scenes proved very unpopular in Germany but was embraced in other countries. “It’s important to start a dialogue,” she said.

To engage in a meaningful dialogue globally, “we’ve got to get our own house in order,” said Harris. “We can’t just suddenly announce we need a global framework.”

Wong said it’s important to make sure that a consumer privacy experience is interactive and meaningful, adding that technology has moved on from simple “notice and choice” policies, which she called “two dimensional.” That type of privacy policy tells the user a company’s privacy policy, for example, and then allows the consumer to agree or not agree to it.

Wong said technology now exists to allow consumers to edit their privacy preferences and reveal to them how they are being tracked.

Internationally, Harris said, there’s a perception that because the United States doesn’t have a data commissioner “we are viewed as outliers.”

However, she said most of the innovation in privacy happens in the United States and lauded that many firms have chief privacy officers on staff today.

Policymakers, she said, should be careful not to “get into the kind of granular codification [on privacy] so that we freeze where we are now” and not enable companies to continue innovating.

“If we can innovate at that level, we should be able to innovate at the policy level,” she said. “We are at point where a global framework makes sense…but it takes government leadership not just companies.”

Wong told the discussion moderator, NTIA chief Larry Strickling, that the Commerce Department should recognize itself as a global leader whose policymakers, technologists and entrepreneurs have developed an unbelievable platform.

However, there needs to be some sort of enforcement agency looking out for Americans’ best interest, said Irving, acknowledging that the Federal Trade Commission has a role there.

Harris suggested that the department should work with companies that might not be leaders in privacy practices and design and help them take some of these initiatives and apply them to their own smaller firms.

Cybersecurity

Biden On Lookout for Cyberattacks with Russia Massing on Border of Ukraine

The president says that, in the past, Russia has taken covert military actions.

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Photo of President Joe Biden on Thursday

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2022 – President Joe Biden said Thursday that the administration will be on the lookout for Russian cyberattacks in Ukraine as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin may be edging closer to invading Ukrainian territory.

Biden warned that, in the past, Russia has launched aggressive computer attacks that, while perhaps falling short of overt military action, have been daunting cyber-offensives of “military” officials not wearing Russian uniforms.

The comments came at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting of Biden’s Infrastructure Implementation Task Force. Biden briefly addressed rising tensions surrounding Ukraine.

Many critics of Russia, including Biden, have said that they Putin will pounce.

During his remarks, Biden said Moscow would “pay a heavy price” should it move any Russian troops across the Ukrainian border.

Following his foreign policy comments, Biden turned his attention to the planned task force talks on implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed on November 15, 2022.

He turned to former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the administration’s unofficial “infrastructure czar,” to offer comments on the administration’s progress to press.

Biden specifically addressed the law’s implications for ongoing supply chain issues.

Since the back half of 2021, the world has faced historic shipping delays on a variety of commercial goods as global manufacturing systems continue struggling to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and workforce shortages exacerbated by it.

Specifically, the tech industry has faced chronic shortages of semiconductor chips, perhaps worse than most other commodities. The shortages have crippled many digital industry supply chains. products.

Biden said that with the infrastructure law investment in physical infrastructure, including additional highways to alleviate traffic on the nation’s roads, will allow goods to be transported faster through existing supply chains.

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International

Global Collaboration Important for Long-term Resolution on Supply Chain Concerns

America and Europe are working together to address supply chain concerns.

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Lise Fuhr (top left), Jonathan Spalter (top right), Ruth Berry (bottom left), Thibaut Kleiner (bottom right)

WASHINGTON, January 13, 2022 – American and European leaders discussed Wednesday how they were working to build closer partnerships with global players to reduce the impact of supply chain issues that have constricted supply of consumer and business items and have contributed to inflation scares.

A mix of federal aid, low interest rates and coronavirus-induced supply chain problems have led to a reported seven percent increase in the price of goods in December compared to the previous December.

Jonathan Spalter, CEO of broadband association USTelecom, the White House National Security Council’s Director for Digital Technology Policy and International Economics Ruth Berry, and the European Commission’s Thibaut Kleiner noted Wednesday that they were working together on a long-term resolution to supply chain concerns, including increasing funding and coordination between their governments and coordinating with non-government stakeholders to exchange ideas.

Berry, Spalter, and Kleiner agreed that there is a major issue with the supply chain with respect to things including chips, fiber optic cable and circuit boards. According to Berry, this issue is key to the Biden administration and they are making investments, expanding domestic production, and partnering with other entities to resolve this issue.

Berry focused on the idea that the views of stakeholders should be prioritized. She said there is value in the exchange of ideas and in considering the views of people across the industry, with Spalter and Kleiner agreeing.

Kleiner said the European Commission is speaking with America, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea to find like-minded ways to address this issue. One of the contributing problems is that chips and other materials are designed in the European Union and in the United States, but are produced in Asia, making the industry dependent on Asian production, said Kleiner.

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China

FCC Orders China Telecom to Stop Providing Services in the U.S. Over National Security Concerns

The move is in line with FCC’s tough posture on national security risks emanating from China.

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FCC meeting Tuesday included reasons for revoking China Telecom authorizations.

WASHINGTON, October 27, 2021The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to revoke the operating authorizations of China Telecom’s U.S. subsidiary, effectively ending its ability to provide services in the country.

The company had initially challenged the process of revoking its authorizations that started last year under the Donald Trump presidency, but lost in court.

The FCC found that China Telecom Americas’ ties to the Chinese government raises “significant national security and law enforcement risks” to U.S. communications. The telecom must discontinue any services within sixty days after the order is released.

The FCC’s analysis concludes that “the present and future public interest, convenience, and necessity” is no longer served by allowing the company’s operations in the U.S. The commission found that China Telecom Americas is “subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government request without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight.”

The order also found that the company’s conduct toward the commission demonstrates “a lack of candor, trustworthiness, and reliability that erodes the baseline level of trust that the Commission and other U.S. government agencies require of telecommunications carriers.”

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the vote, calling the decision to stop China Telecom “ an important and necessary step” to protecting U.S. communications infrastructure.

“This is not a decision we make lightly. It has support from each of my colleagues. It has support across the federal government,” she said. Continuing to allow China Telecom Americas to operate in the U.S. “could lead to real problems with our telecommunications networks through surveilling information, misrouting traffic, or disrupting service,” she added.

Revocation in-line with FCC focus on weeding out threats

The vote to block China Telecom’s services also comes as the FCC fields comments about its proposal to blacklist products and services that pose national security threats.

The U.S. government is also responding to China’s influence over digital services. In July, the Biden administration formally accused the Chinese government of hacking Microsoft’s email system. Digital policy experts have raised concern about how China’s use of digital tools threatens human rights agendas and democracy around the world.

Last June, the permanent subcommittee on investigations released a report finding the Chinese government engages in cyber efforts against the U.S. and may use telecommunications carriers to interfere with U.S. network systems.

The ban on China Telecom follows a Canadian order to ban another company — China Mobile — from operating in the country, citing similar national security concerns. The company, which had an agreement to resell services of telco giant Telus, was told in August that it couldn’t continue operations. The company has since filed an appeal in the federal court.

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