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Week ahead in cyber: Washington grapples with Trump Jr. fallout

EU, US cyber talks and Kaspersky weighs response to ban

The controversy over Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton is certain to hold the spotlight in the week ahead.

There have already been calls for Trump Jr. to come and testify before Congress.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reportedly is sending a letter to the president's son, asking him to appear before his Judiciary Committee as early as the coming week. It would be the first formal invite, but other lawmakers have also been clamoring to learn more about the meeting.

Grassley has also said he would call former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was also at the meeting – even threatening a subpoena.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has also asked her panel to call Trump Jr.

The president's son has said he would be willing to talk to lawmakers, but it's still unclear when that would happen.

There are still many lingering questions about the meeting. President Trump has said he did not know about the meeting, and has defended his son.

More details are emerging daily.

The pitch to Trump Jr. was part of a broader Russian effort, The Hill reported Thursday. On Friday, the AP reported that a Russian-American lobbyist was also at that meeting.

Those bombshell disclosures are likely to dominate the coming week and could bring more frustration to Republican lawmakers who worry the Russia story is overshadowing their agenda.

It will also be a big week for Kaspersky Lab, the international security software designer headquartered in Moscow. The company suffered a heavy blow from the Trump administration when the GSA on Wednesday removed Kaspersky from an approved list of vendors for federal agencies.

The move comes amid fears the Russian government could use Kaspersky's wares as a platform for sabotage or espionage.

There has been a lot of innuendo, but very little evidence released to back the claim – and that makes it hard for the company to refute. Founder Eugene Kaspersky had, even before the ban, offered to testify before Congress and provide source code to prove that his software was on the level.

The broader effects are still unclear, but the cyber world will be watching closely to see if the Russian government makes good on its threat to retaliate against U.S. software manufacturers over the ban.

And there are questions about how Kaspsersky will respond. Will the company try to reassure western nations its software isn't compromised? Will it go further than the media denials it has issued?

The coming week also brings some important talks on international cyber issues.

A delegation of members from the European Parliament, specifically its Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, will visit Washington to work on a slate issues dominated by cybersecurity.

According to the committee, that will include "topics related to the protection of personal data (EU-US Privacy Shield and its implementation by the US, digital privacy and electronic communications, law enforcement), cybercrime, counterterrorism, radicalisation, immigration ... and protection of victims."

One particular concern likely to get much attention will be cross-border data warrants.

Microsoft and Google are in the middle of a long fight with the Justice Department over how the government requests evidence from a computer in a foreign nation.

The DOJ believes that a warrant issued in the United States should be able to force a company to retrieve data from a foreign computer. The tech companies believe the U.S. should be bound to the same procedures it would go through to request physical evidence from another country, in effect obtaining permission from the foreign government. Otherwise, tech firms say, they will be forced to violate a foreign law to abide by a U.S. order.

Finally, get ready to welcome some of the smartest young minds in robotics, as the "First Robotics" competition storms Washington.

It's the first time the competition will pit international teams of high schoolers against each other. The robotics challenge in the past was limited to teams from the United States. Good luck, robot makers. May the laws of thermodynamics be ever in your favor.

[Source: By Joe Uchill, The Hill, Washington, 17Jul17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 19Jul17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.