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International Affairs

Loot Boxes: Benign Entertainment or Gambling for Minors?

In 2019, Senator Josh Hawley put forth legislation to regulate loot boxes advertised or sold to minors in video games. The legislation was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation but did not move any further. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been researching the use of loot boxes since 2018 and has done multiple workshops to promote public awareness of microtransactions. More recently there has been public sentiment for changes in the gaming industry and other countries such as Singapore have taken steps this year to protect consumers from predatory practices of game companies.

Biden Administration Works with the EU to Develop New Data-Sharing Agreement

After the EU invalidated the previous data transfer agreement between the EU and the US in July of 2020, many big tech companies have been left unsure how to keep business flowing from Europe without the ability to store data within the US. To the relief of these companies, the Biden Administration has reached a preliminary agreement for a new deal with the EU. Coined the Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework, this new agreement works to address concerns raised by the EU.

The First Cyber War: The Threat of Russian Cyberattacks has Thrust Cybersecurity Compliance into the Spotlight

The impact of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022 has not only caused a horrific human rights crisis but has also had a dramatic effect on how the world conducts business, felt well beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine. Warnings of an imminent Russian cyberattack on critical United States infrastructure has small and large businesses alike brushing up their cybersecurity policies to ensure they are compliant with current best practices in the likely event of a Russian cyberattack and impending federal legislation.

The Economic War Against Russia: Sanctions, Sanctions and More Sanctions

As the pace of Russia’s incursion into neighboring Ukraine escalated three weeks ago, starting with a massing of troops on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas border and expanding quickly into a full-fledged military invasion, so too did the response of the United States and its Western allies. Initially, the Biden Administration proceeded cautiously, deciding against levying its harshest sanctions over concerns of how they would impact European and global economies and that a stepped approach offered the best chance for de-escalation of tensions. The government began by blacklisting two major state-owned banks that are tied to the country’s defense sector and five Russian nationals with close links to the Kremlin. The U.S. and its European allies also banned the Kremlin from raising new money in the U.S. and Europe and trading new sovereign debt in U.S or European markets. In addition, Germany unilaterally halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline which was set to go ahead sometime later this year, an action applauded by the U.S. who had long argued against the project fearing that it would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel.

NATO Membership and the Rising Tensions Between Ukraine and Russia

Russia has recently been assembling their troops along their shared border with Ukraine in what is seemingly amounting to a planned invasion of the country. While Ukraine is warning that Russia is attempting to destabilize and invade the country, Russia denies any potential plans to attack and insists that NATO support for Ukraine is a threat on Russia’s border. As the world watches in suspense, the United States and other NATO members are at a crossroads as to whether Ukraine may join the pact.

Blacklisting – the Modern Diplomat’s Weapon of Choice

Throughout the end of 2021, the Biden administration intensified its crackdown on civilian organizations believed to be supporting China’s military. As a result, the U.S. Commerce and Treasury departments, acting pursuant to the president’s June 3 Executive Order, recently unleashed a barrage of economic sanctions by effectively blacklisting more than forty Chinese companies, tech firms, and research institutes. Such far-reaching measures have ensnared prominent businesses across a variety of industries, including facial recognition specialists, artificial intelligence companies, and the world’s largest producer of commercial drones, DJI Technology Co. Those targeted were added to either the Commerce Department’s entity list, which blocks trade with U.S. exporters of software and other technologies, or to a Treasury list restricting access to American investment. Placement on the Treasury’s list can be especially damaging to an organization’s financial stability because the agency’s policies not only bar those sanctioned from transacting with domestic businesses but also prohibit American investors from taking stakes in companies on the list. Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry quickly denounced the sanctions as an “unwarranted suppression” of Chinese enterprises. Some of the listed companies themselves also publicly criticized their presence on the blacklists, including the artificial-intelligence start-up SenseTime Group which called the accusations against it “unfounded.” U.S. officials, however, defended the decision – citing both national security threats and human rights violations as causes for the sanctions.

The Ableist and Racist Public Charge Rule

The Public Charge Rule perpetuates anti-immigrant sentiment and keeps poor, disabled migrants who were often Black, Brown, and ethnically oppressed out of the United States. It makes pathways to citizenship contingent upon wealth and the absence of disability. As the Autistic Self Advocacy Network puts it, the Public Charge Rule is a “clear echo of the racist and ableist policies of the eugenics era.”

The Questions of Scotland’s Independence: The Rise of Scottish Nationalism, Trade Concerns, and the Future of Economic Regulatory Policies 

Collectively, four countries make up the United Kingdom (U.K.), including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In 2016, an overwhelming number of Scottish citizens voted to remain in the European Union (E.U.) during the U.K. referendum, which resulted in a 51.89 percent vote in favor to leave. After departing from the E.U. in January of 2020, Scottish industries suffered economic losses due to the ‘red tape’ policies imposed by the U.K., making it more difficult to sell Scottish products to E.U. member countries. As a result, Scotland’s independence and nationalist movement grew exponentially, with forty-five of the fifty-nine Scottish seats in the House of Commons going to the Scottish Nationalist Party, with strong support of seceding from the U.K. Additionally, in 2019, Scotland’s Parliament reconvened for the first time since 1707, signaling the Scotland’s desire for self-autonomy and sovereignty. The possibility of seceding poses questions over the future of economic and social regulatory policies for an independent Scotland.

“Grounding”: Federal Regulation in the Context of Aircraft Suspensions

On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 en route to Nairobi, Kenya crashed shortly after take-off leaving no survivors. It became the carrier’s most deadly crash and its first fatal crash since January 2010. Most notably, however, it was the second fatal crash involving Boeing’s new 737 MAX jet in less than five months after the Lion Air Flight 610 accident in October 2018. The day following the tragedy, Ethiopian Airlines grounded all of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice. Many other airlines suspended operations of the aircraft as well and countless countries banned the 737 MAX from airspace.

Facebook’s Watching… For Now

Ever since the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, concerns surrounding data privacy and protection have been growing. Both government agencies and individual users have particularly been concerned on how their data is being collected and used on social media websites such as Facebook. Germany has taken action in response to such concerns and recently took a step against Facebook’s collection of data in a decision that outlawed Facebook’s entire advertisement regime.