At a glance.
- Cyber on the agenda at the Geneva summit.
- A US "anti-monopoly agenda."
- An0m and its implications for the Crypto Wars.
Looking ahead to the Russian-American summit.
NPR says cyber will be a top priority at this week’s Washington-Moscow talks, but it’s unclear whether any headway will be made, since the two camps “often talk past each other” on the issue. This despite, as we’ve seen and as the Washington Post notes, Russia’s recent reaffirmation of a UN resolution against harboring hackers and conducting peacetime attacks on critical infrastructure. Imposing consequences for violating the (at present) nonbinding resolution is another matter. Allies can stand together against infractions and encourage developing countries to follow their lead, but “unless you hold [violators] accountable,” Silverado Policy Accelerator executive Dmitri Alperovitch argues, “having nonbinding norms doesn’t fundamentally change our security situation.” Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, and Tehran, he said, otherwise don’t “seem to have any intention to follow” the norms. The Biden Administration has “downplayed expectations” for progress in advance of the summit.
Another Washington Post piece describes Moscow’s modus operandi of cultivating and collaborating with cybercriminals, as long as they steer clear of protected targets. While Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov seeks to characterize hacking as a worldwide phenomenon, Russian hacker-turned-Recorded Future analyst Dmitry Smilyanets compared his native country to a conservatory for cybercrime, like a “place where you grow your vegetables, where you have perfect sunlight, perfect humidity and absolutely no wind.” Given a “great education…great Internet, and absolutely nothing” to afflict them, he said, hackers “flourish, they grow. They learn a new way to hack. They teach their friends.” Easy money in a tough economy, and resentment towards the West for Russia’s decline may serve as primary motivators. Smilyanets thinks “a lot of young, smart kids” get sucked into cyber gangs for lack of other opportunities. Author of The Red Web Andrei Soldatov claims a generation of red hackers hold Western countries responsible for the homeland’s economic misfortune. The Kremlin’s association with cybercriminals, in turn, runs the gamut from skimming profits to recruiting rising stars and directing attacks.
One outcome the SVR is hoping for, TASS is authorized to declare, is a closer intelligence-sharing relationship with the CIA. SVR Director Sergey Naryshkin stressed that the CIA-SVR partnership has remained unbroken through waxing and waning periods of communication. "We exchange information that…primarily relates to such issues as the fight against international terrorism,” he said. Russian President Putin is preparing the ground, an interview on NBC indicates, with a preemptive tu quoque: Russia does nothing that America doesn't also do.
The US House Judiciary Committee's "Anti-Monopoly Agenda."
And they’ve got Big Tech in mind. The bills, which advanced with what the Verge characterizes as bipartisan support, are the result of sixteen months of deliberation by the House Judiciary Committee.
Among the agenda, which the Committee calls “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, Choice,” are five measures.
- “The ‘American Innovation and Choice Online Act’ to prohibit discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms, including a ban on self-preferencing and picking winners and losers online. The bill is sponsored by Chairman Cicilline and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05).
- “The ‘Platform Competition and Opportunity Act’ prohibits acquisitions of competitive threats by dominant platforms, as well [as] acquisitions that expand or entrench the market power of online platforms. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Buck.
- “The ‘Ending Platform Monopolies Act’ eliminates the ability of dominant platforms to leverage their control over [and] across multiple business lines to self-preference and disadvantage competitors in ways that undermine free and fair competition. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05).
- “The ‘Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act’ promotes competition online by lowering barriers to entry and switching costs for businesses and consumers through interoperability and data portability requirements. This bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04).
- “The ‘Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act’ updates filing fees for mergers for the first time in two decades to ensure that Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have the resources they need to aggressively enforce the antitrust laws. This bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-02) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz (IN-05).”
The relevance of the FBI's and AFP's An0m sting.
The US FBI and the Australian Federal Police effectively ran and listened in on the encrypted chat app An0m from shortly after the Bureau brought a successful RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) beef against encrypted communications provider Phantom Secure in 2018. Their success in doing so has given criminals the willies, but it’s also given, in WIRED’s account, a victory of sorts to pro-encryption hawks in the Crypto Wars. Why, they ask, if law enforcement can run this sort of operation, do they really need backdoors to track down criminals who’ve gone dark?