This week has seen a great deal of variety in the technological world. In response to the terror attacks in the UK and in Europe, The European Union is seeking greater access to data from tech firms. The legislative proposal will give police greater power to request personal data in cases related to terror investigations. The legislation raises questions about the sanctity of our data, and whether or not the government should have access to our online information. It’s become a common trend for governments to look to increase internet regulation in the wake of terrorist attacks. This could have massive implications regarding our right to privacy on the web.
On a different note, Cisco has forecast a massive increase in annual IP traffic, expecting a threefold increase from 2016 to 2021. Similarly, the internet will see over 1 billion new users within the next years as we become ever more reliant on bandwidth-intensive video content. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index raises questions about how companies can cope with this demand, particularly with regards to cyber security. The VNI also identifies that DDoS attacks remain a significant threat to businesses around the world, with their size increasing 60% year on year.
Finally, internet network Akamai released a report this week that identified that US internet speed is lagging behind other developed nations, ranking at 32nd of 74 countries. The news was surprising given the United States’ prominence in the developed world. Like Cisco’s forecast, Akamai anticipates that the global average connection speed will increase 15% every year for the foreseeable future.
The European Union Seeks Greater Data Transparency
This week the European Union has announced it plans to legislate so that police have greater access to the data of private companies in order to help catch terror suspects. Law enforcement agencies will be able to retrieve previously protected data from tech firms, and companies like Facebook and Google. The move has come as a response to the terror attacks in Europe last week, with the government seeking to get data transferred between EU member states. That has been a process that is historically bureaucratic and slow.
The commission will propose three distinct options in the legislative proposal. The first moderate option will enable law enforcement agencies in member states to ask IT providers in other member states to turn over electronic evidence without asking the member state beforehand. The second more forceful option is obliging companies to turn over data if it is requested by another member state. The most aggressive option is to allow law enforcement to access information in the cloud directly. Speaking on the proposal, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova suggested that ‘in the shadow of the recent terrorist attacks and increasing threats in Europe there will be more understanding among the ministers, even among those who come from countries where there has not been a terrorist attack”.
The intention of legislation is to catch terror suspects much more easily, but in the process it damages online privacy. The response to increased internet regulation in the aftermath of terror attacks has become increasingly common. As Ms. Jourova argues, this is an ‘extraordinary measure’ for ‘extraordinary threats’ for high gravity criminal offences such as ‘terrorism’. It’s hard to know what this means for the sanctity of data of non-terror suspects, but it suggests that future regulation is yet to come.
Cisco Forecasts Annual IP traffic
Cisco’s visual networking index has predicted that overall, annual IP traffic will exceed three zettabytes by 2021, a near threefold increase on the annual run rate of 1.2 zettabytes in 2016. The increase comes as part of an overall increase in usage of the internet that will see over 1 billion new users within the next few years. Much of this increase will come as a result of our collective reliance on online video content, which consumes lots of bandwidth. Yvette Kanouff of Cisco suggested that Cisco will have much to do to grow in line with this demand, arguing that “driving network innovation with service providers will be key for Cisco to support the needs of their customers who want reliable secure and high quality connected experiences”. The growth of IP traffic over time causes immense strain if organizations fail to adequately accommodate the increase in bandwidth that comes as a result of dense video content.
In line with these concerns over increasing usage, there is much to be said about security in this instance. In a survey of security professionals Cisco found that companies were concerned about attacks on their systems in all forms. Far from being paranoia, there is clear evidence that malicious attacks are on the increase. Last year, DDoS attacks were very high, and have been increasing 60% year over year, almost reaching the figure of 1.2 Gbps which is “enough to take most organisations completely behind”. Not only will providers have to accommodate an increase in usage, they will also have to address an increase in malicious attacks - as well as an increase in magnitude of these attacks.
Akamai Report Reveals that US Internet Speed Lagging Behind
Most surprisingly this week, a report from internet network Akamai identified that U.S. mobile speed’s lag well behind those found in other developed countries. Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report showed that the US had an average of 10.7 Mbps, compared to countries like the UK with 26 Mbps and Germany 24.1 Mbps. Such speed has put the U.S at 32nd of 74 countries in the study.
The study also identified that the global average connection speed has increased 15% year over year. The growth has come as a result of continual investment in the tech industry and in international network infrastructure. David Belson, identified a key example of intensive internet usage citing the U.S. Presidential election, ‘which broke traffic records for live coverage of a single news event delivered by Akamai’. However, before jumping to criticize the US, the report shows signs of high-level connectivity in other areas. With regards to wired broadband, the United States ranked 8th with a minimum speed of 15 Mbps.