At a glance.
- US Senate approves National Defense Authorization Act.
- EU works out a strategy for cyber partnership with the US.
- Bucharest wins EU cyber headquarters bidding, nosing out Brussels.
- Facebook anti-trust suits limn a villain.
- US Federal Communications Commission takes a year-end shot at Chinese companies.
Senate approves National Defense Authorization Act.
The US Senate just approved, this afternoon, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Federal News Network reports. The NDAA passed by an 84-to-13 margin, with broad bipartisan support and, as was the case with the earlier House vote, enough to override any Presidential veto, assuming the support holds. The bill enacts significant cybersecurity measures, several of which would implement recommendations of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.
EU works to develop its approach to incoming US Administration with respect to cyber policy.
EU leaders met earlier this week to develop a strategy for relations with the next US Administration, CyberScoop reports. Improved cybersecurity information sharing and capacity building were discussed, along with 5G and defensive cooperation. Disinformation and dual cyber-kinetic threats were also on the docket. The US and a handful of EU states already have an understanding that mutual cyber aid would be available in the event of a NATO response, as well as a storied history of cyber collaboration. The EU hopes to embellish the relationship as its ally turns the page.
Improved EU-US coordination would have to navigate a difference in policy. While the EU prefers to sanction threat actors, the US has been hunting forward on the view that deterrence is insufficient.
Bucharest bests Brussels.
Bucharest defeated six contenders to house the new European Cybersecurity Competence Center (ECCC), which Politico says will host gatherings of cyber leaders and administer a €2 billion cybersecurity research budget. The funds originate from Digital Europe, innovation and Covid-19 allocations, and member state contributions. The ECCC comes with roughly thirty to eighty jobs and a cyber ego boost. Brussels took an honorable silver, according to another Politico piece. Romania’s edge derived from its eager campaigning, competitive statistics on women in cyber, and its current lack of an EU agency. The nuts and bolts of Center governance are expected to be hammered out in the coming weeks.
Looking for a villain in the Facebook anti-monopoly action?
The Washington Post interprets the villainous caricature of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg drawn in this week’s antitrust lawsuits, which reference “the wrath of Mark” and his plans to have rivals “snuffed out,” as a “tactical choice likely to fuel the all-out battle brewing.” The US Justice Department’s October Google suit, in contrast, doesn’t mention company leaders. While no one person has controlling shares of Alphabet, Zuckerberg controls Facebook’s votes, and has pledged to “go to the mat.” A former FTC official characterized Google as a “machine” and Facebook as an extension of Zuckerberg.
Facebook’s conquering of competitors is well-documented. Instagram’s decision to sell allegedly hinged on anxiety that Zuck would enter “destroy mode” if his offer were refused, for example. What’s less clear is what market Facebook monopolizes, given the existence of platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok, and what harm consumers have faced as a result, an important component in US antitrust law. The suits’ answer to the latter is that privacy has suffered under Facebook’s reign, but in the absence of something like a US GDPR, it’s not clear rivals would have treated data any differently.
Villain or no villain, monopoly or just smart, tough competitor, Facebook won't be easy to break up, if it comes to that. The Wall Street Journal talks with a range of experts who see "years of engineering and legal work" ahead should the suit eventually lead to a decision to split up the company.
Villainizing Zuckerberg could be a way to counter him in the court of public opinion at least, where he wields one of the most powerful bullhorns ever created. One small lesson leaders might learn—corporate leaders in the first instance, but leaders in any field at all—is the bad effect tough talk and aggressive expressions can have on the led. The audio (which would be the verbal equivalent of "the optics") is also bad.
FCC takes two steps against Chinese companies.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday took two actions against Chinese companies. One begins the process of revoking China Telecom's authorization to operate in the US. "[T]he Commission determined that China Telecom Americas has failed to provide a satisfactory response to the concerns of the Executive Branch or to the FCC’s Order to Show Cause. Today’s action therefore formally starts the process for determining whether the public interest, convenience, and necessity warrant revocation of the company’s domestic section 214 authority and revocation and/or termination of its international section 214 authorizations. The proceeding will also consider whether the company complied with its 2007 letter of assurances to the Department of Justice—including the FBI—and Department of Homeland Security." Commissioner Geoffrey Starks noted, in a comment that accompanied the FCC's announcement, that China Telecom is closely tied to the Chinese government, but emphasizes that the risk the company poses isn't merely "structural," but it "behavioral" as well.
The other adopts rules that require carriers receiving Federal funds to remove and replace equipment that poses a security risk. This is the long-expected rip-and-replace order that will disproportionately affect telecom providers serving rural areas. The FCC stresses that the carriers will be given Federal financial assistance to help them comply. Huawei and ZTE are expected to be most affected by the decision.