At a glance.
- A cyber Cold War?
- Australia's hardening line on China.
- EU regulators move toward restricting data flows to the US.
The Nation calls a cyber Cold War (and blames the US).
The Nation argues for a “non-proliferation approach” to cyber weaponry that involves Moscow, Beijing, and Washington. While President Obama brokered a short-lived corporate espionage ceasefire with China, the Nation complains that the US has declined other opportunities to establish cyber peace, preferring to preserve offensive options, with the effect (on the author’s view) of escalating risks to industry and infrastructure across the board. The NSA’s compromised zero-days “arsenal,” for instance, birthed WannaCry, NotPetya, and billions in damages. (It’s worth pointing out that stolen zero-days were deployed by adversaries, which might suggest that their intentions aren’t necessarily as irenic and amenable to negotiation as the Nation might suppose. The Nation took a similar position during the last Cold War.)
Australia’s policy toward China hardens.
While the Nation appeals for a negotiated cyber truce, Canberra’s moving towards more deterrence through strength. Foreign Policy says that Australia is finally getting serious about Beijing’s regional aggression after years of trying to have its cake of US military protection and eat its cake of close trade ties with China. A retired Australian general last year counseled that war with China is likely, and the country’s Defence Minister warned recently that regional conflict is possible. Defense investments are on the rise, bolstered by US support.
Calling Australia a “test cast for resistance,” the article notes the hesitancy of other regional allies, and China’s swift response to any assertive behavior within what it takes to be its sphere of influence. A former US defense official characterized the situation thusly: “The Chinese have made it clear that they are going to pull out all of the stops to try and put Australia in a box. It’s not just about Australia…if they can put the Aussies back into a box, that sends a message to everyone else.”
The tide began turning after a 2017 expose of Beijing’s political influence in-country, but China’s pandemic shenanigans hastened the shift. After Canberra backed an independent inquiry into the virus’ origins, China retaliated with $3 billion worth of trade restrictions. Australia in turn cancelled “loads” of deals.
Britain defended regional trade waters through 1942, when the US took over. Now China is a naval power, and the impending Pacific “showdown” is an “existential” issue for Canberra. “If you are thinking we are okay, this is the largest shipbuilding nation in the history of the human race,” cautioned former US Navy Captain Tom Shugart.
EU privacy regulators restrict data flows to the US.
EU officials are investigating local firms’ data safeguards and have interrupted some trans-Atlantic data flows, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last summer an EU court found that US laws directing businesses to share data for law enforcement purposes put Europeans’ privacy at risk, and regulators are taking action.
One Bavarian firm stopped using Mailchimp in response to a privacy authority’s inquiry, for example. Other bureaus and companies around Hamburg similarly amended their business practices following an audit. Uber drivers in France are suing for data protections, and Portugal’s statistical institute was ordered not to transmit census data to Cloudflare. Some US companies are offering local data storage alternatives to assuage privacy concerns—as they have been for years, according to Network Computing.