US and Germany Face Off on Soccer and Spying

Germany's Per Mertesacker, back, and United States' Clint Dempsey go for a header during the World Cup.

Germany's Per Mertesacker, back, and United States' Clint Dempsey go for a header during the World Cup. Petr David Josek/AP

Internet governance was on the agenda at Thursday’s bilateral cyber meeting.

Hours before kickoff at the much-anticipated U.S. vs. Germany World Cup game, the two countries held what was planned as a friendly match to hash out cyber matters.

The U.S.-Germany Cyber Bilateral Meeting in Berlin wrapped up around 5 p.m. German time (11 a.m. EDT), according to the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues. State officials said they will release a joint statement on the event later today. 

The talks were expected to cover the protection of key industry sectors, cybercrime and Internet governance.

The latter has become as contentious as soccer in some corners. Europeans allege the United States could abuse its position as the steward of the Web's address directory to advance economic and intelligence agendas.

A Commerce Department agency currently administers changes to the Internet directory and contracts out some duties to the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an international nonprofit.  

Earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed the idea of carving out a separate European Internet to shelter her citizens from U.S. surveillance. In 2013, documents leaked by ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden indicated the United States had been monitoring Merkel's cellphone calls. She denounced spying among friends as unacceptable.

Amid the uproar, the U.S. government has announced plans to cede control of Internet-naming responsibilities -- such as approving the suffix .futbol – to "the global multistakeholder community."

But as of Wednesday, Europe continues to attack ICANN as unfit for Internet governance, AFP reports. France reportedly failed to halt the assigning of new names, which it wants restricted to protect regional products such as Champagne. Now, the country intends to start discussions with other European nations on control over the Internet. Earlier this week, ICANN leaders said France has not exhausted all options to raise concerns and should do so.

State cyber coordinator Christopher Painter on Thursday led the U.S. delegation. Delegates included representatives from Commerce, the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense, as well as from the National Security Council. 

The meeting is expected to be followed tomorrow with a live-streamed U.S.-German cyber dialogue, in which White House counselor John Podesta and other federal representatives will discuss big data, privacy and economic innovation, among other issues.

The open dialogue is scheduled to be hosted by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Other anticipated speakers include Federal Trade Commission chief Julie Brill, former U.S. Foreign Service senior official Jim Lewis, now a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and former Commerce counsel Cameron Kerry, now a researcher at the Brookings Institution. 

The two countries held their first bilateral engagement June 14 in Washington.