December 2021 Global Tech Policy Briefing

Happy holidays and welcome back to Citizen Tech, InformationWeek’s monthly policy report. For this 2021 Final Report, we look at the Biden administration’s triumphs, failures, and promises, as well as cybersecurity in the United States and beyond, digital business conditions in Europe, and more.

‘Build Back Better’ hits the wall

President Biden’s Rebuilding Better Infrastructure bill failed to liquidate the Senate last week, when Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he would not vote for it.

The plan has (or has, if you think the revised version will eventually meet Senator Manchin’s approval) has a number of significant technical and digital implications. One, for example, was the federal government’s promise of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, an ambitious project that relies on access to a number of cutting-edge technologies, such as zero-emissions cars and 14-megawatt solar power facilities, according to the White House. Statement of facts.

However, there is a little catch. The net-zero-by-2050 announcement came in the form of an executive order, but an executive order from December 8, 11 days before Build Better failed.

“Together,” the statement read, “The President’s Act…will provide agencies with the funding needed to achieve the objectives of the Executive Order.”

Excuse me.

Big tech can be a threat…

The plan to build back better has had more subtle effects on the tech sector as well, particularly in its intention to bring the United States into line with the minimum international corporate tax rate, Politico reported. Big US tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft stumbled on what they saw as a threat to their bottom line: A spokesperson from the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents the big names in Big Tech, told POLITICO that the corporate tax proposal would “disrupt the overall competitiveness of globally engaged US employers.”

Congressional Democrats entered the rolls on the president’s side, with hearings this month in both the House and Senate on increased regulation on the Internet and big companies like Facebook. On December 9, Congressman Frank Ballon (D-NJ) told the Energy and Commerce Committee that “it’s clear that companies are not going to change on their own” to ensure transparency, protect whistleblowers, and preserve harmful content from children and the details of their dealings with China.

Congress must work […to] Targeting different parts of the social media platform to make the platforms safer for users.”

…but also a partner

On a very different note, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas, National Cyber ​​Director Chris Inglis, CISA Director Gene Easterly, and others went to San Francisco on December 7 to meet with top representatives from AT&T, Cisco and Google and Microsoft, VMware, and other tech giants. Mission: Discuss cooperation between the public and private sectors in the face of increasing cyber-attacks.

Cyber ​​security threats affect individuals, communities, and organizations of all sizes. Increasing the resilience of national cybersecurity is a top priority for DHS and the Biden-Harris administration,” Mayorcas said. “We are taking proactive steps to take our operational collaboration with the private sector to new heights, while prioritizing our shared goal of defending a secure digital future.”

The meeting suggested or created new ways to collaborate, as well as metrics for success. Overall, it looked like an optimistic departure from the Biden administration’s wrangling with tech companies in other areas.

NSA and CISA publish new guidelines for cybersecurity for 5G networks

Meanwhile, CISA and the National Security Administration (NSA) submitted a second review of the 5G cybersecurity guidance on December 2.

According to a CISA statement, “Devices and services connected over 5G networks transmit, use, and store an exponentially increasing amount of data. This third installment of the four-part 5G Cloud Infrastructure Series Security Guide explains how to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access.”

The new guidelines operate on principles of mistrust and reflect the White House’s continued interest in national cybersecurity.

(Other governments are keeping afloat, and for good reason: On the 6th of the month, the Canadian Communications Security Corporation noted a 151 percent rise in ransomware attacks globally in 2021 compared to 2020, with 235 such attacks on Canadian infrastructure. Vital, Al Jazeera reported.

Europe to expand labor rights to digital work

On December 9, the European Commission proposed a new set of measures to guarantee labor rights for people working on digital platforms. The proposal will focus on transparency, enforcement, traceability, and computational management of what, in the remarkable Eurocratese system, he calls “digital work platforms”. (This refers to 100 percent online jobs, and specifically excludes trip sharing, care work, and similar sectors.)

The number of EU citizens working on digital platforms has grown 500 percent since 2016, reaching 28 million, and likely to reach 43 million by 2025. Of the current 28 million, 59 percent work with clients or colleagues in a country else. The sector is worth about 14 billion euros.

The real question behind the offer is a familiar one: Who is considered an employee and who is an independent contractor? The proposal proposes a framework, so the standard is not yet clear. But it does require “rules about transparency, right to information, probationary periods, parallel hiring, minimum job predictability, and measures for on-demand contracts,” as well as hours, work-life balance (such as maternity leave), and occupational . Safety and temporary work.

The proposal also includes language about artificial intelligence (AI), specifically the risks of unaccountability and discrimination by AI systems for workers.

Executive Vice President of Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager said: “Our proposal for guidance will help pseudo-freelancers on platforms to properly define their employment status and enjoy all the social rights that come with that. Real freelancers on platforms will be protected through enhanced legal certainty about their status and there will be new safeguards against the risks of computational management. These An important step towards a more social digital economy.”

Roaming the continent for another 10 years

Moving from Brussels to Strasbourg, the European Parliament announced on December 9 that the 2017 “Roam Like at Home” scheme, which ended additional roaming charges on mobile phone calls within EU borders, would be extended by another 10 years.

Roaming charges and charges within the European Union are not the same, as the EP press release explains. MEPs have not succeeded in ending charges for phone calls within the EU, although they have limited these charges to 19 cents per minute and banned practices that discourage consumers from roaming (such as switching them to 4G to 3G connections).

Wholesale roaming charges, paid between service providers, will be capped at €2 per GB, to be reduced to €1 by 2027.

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