Multilateral cyber security

Updated: 2011-09-19 08:04

(China Daily)

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THE UNITED NATIONS PERMANENT REPRESEN-TATIVES of China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan jointly sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, requesting him to circulate the International Code of Conduct for Information Security. Drafted by the four countries, it is a formal UN document of the 66th session of the General Assembly.

It is the first of its kind in the field, and shows the joint efforts made by the international community in setting the rules for cyberspace.

According to the letter, the code's purpose is to identify states' rights and responsibilities in cyberspace, promote their constructive and responsible behavior, and enhance their cooperation in addressing the common threats and challenges in cyberspace.

Considering the fact that cyber-attacks in recent years have grown exponentially, the code puts forward comprehensive and systematic proposals on international information security rules.

The code makes much of state sovereignty in cyberspace, but fully respects the rights and free flow of information. Frankly speaking, the flow of information to some extent has no borders, but it cannot overstep national sovereignty and should abide by related laws.

With some predicting that future wars will be conducted in cyberspace, the code requests states, voluntarily subscribing to it, to pledge not to use cyberspace to carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression that pose threats to international peace and security. It also calls on states to cooperate in combating criminal and terrorist activities that use informational and communication technologies.

The United States and its NATO partners have been working together to guard their cyber security. Yet, some of their approaches and priorities put other countries at a disadvantage in cyberspace and are unacceptable for many developing countries.

It is important to note that the US unveiled its International Strategy for Cyberspace in May, which was meant to take the leading role in setting the rules for cyberspace. Reflecting Washington's priority to push ahead with cyber hegemony in a bid to maintain its military and economic supremacy and boost its leading status as the world's only superpower, the US document promised the prospect of a unilateral conventional response by the US to any hostile attacks in cyberspace.

Existing international law and international treaties largely do not cover cyberspace and the four-nation initiative provides a new approach and foundation for related international discussions.

The code proposed in the letter to Ban is a bid to promote multilateral, transparent and democratic management of the Internet.

(China Daily 09/19/2011 page8)