Common cyberspace

(China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-21 07:56
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The White House unveiled its Internation-al Strategy for Cyberspace on May 16. Besides emphasizing the correlation between Internet freedom and cyber security, the document also promised the prospect of conventional responses to hostile attacks in cyberspace.

In the age of information, the document reflects Washington's priority to push ahead with cyber hegemony in a bid to maintain its military and economic supremacy over its competitors and boost its leading status as the world's only superpower.

In fact, different departments of the US government have been working on plans to counter threats from cyber attacks, some of which are regarded as acts of war against US interests.

Along with looking into ways to craft trade countermeasures that treat curbs on Internet commerce as nontariff barriers to trade, the Pentagon's yet-to-be-released strategy for cyber security indicated it will consider cyber attacks originating from foreign countries to be equivalent to acts of war that merit conventional military response from the US.

By defining cyberspace as a new domain in warfare and introducing military deterrence to it, the US is turning cyberspace into a cyber battlefield. These documents raise concerns that the US will give itself new pretext to resort to different means of intervention against other states' sovereignty.

The "Internet freedom" proposed by this strategy can also be used as a foreign policy tool by the US to export its values and support online dissidents or activists to "peacefully" realize regime changes. The "shadow" Internet provided by the US to the opposition in Libya is telling in this regard.

But there is still controversy inside and outside the US over pursuing the strategy legally and morally. Some US officials also question whether the Pentagon can take such action without violating international law or other countries' sovereignty. In the digital world, the principle of sovereignty should also be firmly abided by and a country's domestic Internet policies respected.

Washington's aggressive cyber strategy is also meant to take a leading role in setting the rules for cyberspace.

In a world where modern lives cannot get along smoothly without the Internet, cyberspace should be a peaceful frontier of cooperation in the international community. All the interested parties should have their say in setting the rules.

Unchecked power will be abused, whether in the real world or a virtual one. The world cannot count on the US and its cyber forces to serve as an impartial arbiter in cyberspace.

The international community must work together on an equal footing to establish common international norms, to combat hacking as well as regulate states' conduct.

(China Daily 06/21/2011 page8)