Welcome to the April 2017 edition of the Internet Society North American Bureau’s monthly newsletter!
In the News:
- Electronic Searches at the US Border Have Nearly Doubled
“The border searches are also the subject of a lawsuit. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University is suing the Homeland Security Department for details of searches of travelers’ electronic devices by customs officers since 2012. The lawsuit claims that customs officers and special agents with Homeland Security Investigations, a part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have seized and searched the electronic devices of thousands of people, including citizens, without suspicion — which it said could violate the Constitution.”
- Study Finds Few Americans Understand Cybersecurity
“The Pew study showed 73 percent of those surveyed understood that using public wifi, even if pass protected, is not always safe for sensitive activities, like banking.However, only 48 percent were sure what Ransomware was. Johnson says that’s when a hacker encrypts all your files with a password or key that you don’t know. “In order to recover your files and photos you have to pay the attacker money,” he said. Of the 13 questions asked about cyber security, only 20 percent of those surveyed answered eight questions correctly.”
- Silicon Valley Gears Up for Net Neutrality Fight with Trump’s FCC
“Under Pai’s system, ISPs that break their net neutrality promises would be subject to punishment not by the FCC, but another Washington agency, the Federal Trade Commission. The Internet Association is no fan of that setup, either, and it told Pai during their meeting that net neutrality should continue to be “enforced by the expert agency, namely the FCC.” (The FTC is seen as an easier cop to beat on net neutrality.)”
- Trump Administration Cracking Down on High-Tech Worker Visas
“Many economists who are skeptical of the tech industry’s assertions still say the H-1B program is a net positive for the economy, allowing companies to grow quickly, keep prices lower, and produce software and gadgets that make other fields more productive. But they also say there’s evidence of a large, underused pool of domestic workers who could be tapped instead of guest workers. Census figures, for example, show that half of the nearly 2 million college graduates with degrees in computers, math, or statistics do not work in STEM, the sector that encompasses science, tech, engineering, and mathematics jobs.”
- Is Internet Censorship a Bigger Threat Under Trump?
“These developments don’t on their own spell internet censorship. Rather, they lay the groundwork for it: They create the conditions that allow a regime, whether it’s headed by Trump or another administration down the line, to squelch dissent. It’s part of a broader trend around the world, in which numerous governments are whittling away at internet freedoms. “On a global level social media platforms have been facing growing censorship over the past year,” says Jessica White, an analyst at Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization. Twitter’s lawsuit put an end to one attempt by the Trump administration to undermine free online expression, but it is unlikely to be the last. It is just the freshest in a long string of ploys by governments around the world to solidify their power over online communities.”
- New Startup Taps Canada’s Tech Community to Redesign Government
“The underlying problem is that governments aren’t known for building great websites or apps, and technology isn’t typically one of its strengths (just look at the saga of Healthcare.gov in the U.S., the website created to support Obamacare, or the Canadian federal government’s new email system, perpetually delayed). Perhaps the most egregious example in recent memory is the Canadian government’s IBM Phoenix payment system, which has underpaid and overpaid some public servants, and failed to pay others at all. Governments have complex and lengthy procurement processes — the very antithesis of the agile development cycles and data products favoured in tech. There are myriad rules and requirements unique to governments that digital services must meet. And to top it all off, design and development is happening within sprawling, bureaucratic organizations that are highly resistant to change, and reluctant to take big risks when critical services are involved.”
- Mexico Sees Opportunity in Silicon Valley Business Migration
“That could, and should, be interpreted as a dig at U.S. President Donald Trump, who has galvanized the industry with orders to ban immigration from some mostly Muslim countries and freeze the expedited processing of H-1B visas for specially skilled workers. And the Citizenship and Immigration Services department just issued new guidelines for the visas, making it more difficult for companies to use them to bring foreign tech workers into the U.S. “We had to raise our hand,” Sandoval said. The governor toured Silicon Valley in February and said he talked with more than 40 executives from companies including Microsoft Corp. who were “very interested.” The companies declined to comment.”
- Canadian Tech Community Reacts to 2017 Federal Budget
“We’re pleased with the direction of this year’s budget and its focus on innovation in Canada. There is a role government can play to develop and support homegrown talent as well as Canadian companies. We believe this budget was a step in the right direction. “The $7.8 million in dedicated funding for the Global Skills Strategy is a signal that the government is taking this program seriously. By bringing in one great person it will enable us to hire hundreds of Canadians and expand the workforce. “The investments in computer literacy and STEM education is exactly what we need to be doing in 2017. If we want to be known as an “innovative nation” we need to be developing and investing in homegrown talent.”
- Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Reinstate Online Privacy Regulations
“President Donald Trump on April 3 signed the rollback of Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules and on April 6, a group of Senate Democrats introduced legislation that basically would require the same things the repealed FCC rules did. The bill would require internet service providers get customers’ consent to share information and that the providers have “reasonable” data security.”
Internet Society Calls for Ubiquitous Encryption of the Internet
“Strong encryption is an essential piece to the future of the world’s economy and the Internet Society believes it should be the norm for all online transactions. It allows us to do our banking, conduct local and global business, run our power grids, operate, communications networks, and do almost everything else. Encryption is a technical building block for securing infrastructure, communications and information. It should be made stronger and universal, not weaker. However, rather than being recognized as the way to secure our online transactions or our conversations, all too often the debate focuses on the use of encryption as a way to thwart law enforcement.”
- ISOC Joins Keep It On Campaign, Aimed at Countering Content Blocking and Internet Shutdowns
“The Internet Society today voiced its commitment to keeping the Internet on for everyone, in response to the increasing number of government orders to temporarily shut down or restrict access to Internet services. Speaking out at RightsCon 2017, the world’s leading conference on Internet and human rights taking place 29-31 March in Brussels, the organization underscored that any deliberate attempt to interrupt Internet communications or control the flow of information over the Internet puts society at risk. Internet shutdowns, including those that impact social media sites or entire networks, occur when governments intentionally disrupt the Internet or mobile apps, often used in the context of elections, demonstrations or other tense social contexts. According to Access Now, there were 56 Internet shutdowns recorded worldwide in 2016, an upward trend from previous years.”
- ISOC is Looking for Young People Using the Internet to Make a Difference
“25 years ago, the Internet Society was founded by a group of people who believed the Internet is for everyone. Now we want to meet the next generation of online innovators, who are using the Internet in ways we can only imagine. We are looking for the entrepreneurs. The social change agents. The community game-changers. And we need your help to find them. Please use this form to tell us about how you or someone you know is using the Internet to make a difference. They can be based anywhere in the world. The awardees will be flown to Los Angeles, where they will be honoured in a special ceremony before participating in three days of networking and leadership development. These several days will provide a fantastic opportunity to connect with other young innovators from around the world — and some of the people who made the Internet what it is today.”
- Privacy is Key to Creating Trust Online
“All data collectors have responsibilities to uphold end-user privacy and be transparent in how data is being collected and used. By taking a proactive approach to data collection and handling, companies across the Internet ecosystem can help ensure that their customers have trust in their online communications and transactions. The Internet Society would like to see all Internet-related companies and organizations adopt this approach. That trust is a critical factor in growing the digital economy and in enhancing the quality of life for all citizens around the globe.”
- Internet Society Board of Trustees 2017 Election Results
On behalf of the Internet Society Elections Committee, I wish to extend our appreciation and thanks to all of the nominees and candidates for the Board of Trustees elections in 2017. We are pleased and honored that such well-qualified individuals stepped forward and offered to serve on the Internet Society board.
- OTA and ISOC Combine Resources to Enhance Online Trust, Security and Privacy
Online Trust Alliance to operate within Internet Society as key initiative. The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) and the Internet Society (ISOC) today announced that the two global non-profit organizations have combined resources, expanding the reach and impact of the Internet Society to a broader group of stakeholders and industry members.