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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/17/11

New US International Cybersecurity Strategy Aims to Institute 'Rule of Law' on the Internet

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Kevin Gosztola
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WikiLeaks Omitted from the US International Cybersecurity Strategy

The United States officially launched its international cyber security strategy in a White House event on Monday, May 16. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined by the following administration officials: John Brennan, the president's counterterrorism and homeland security adviser; Howard Schmidt, White House cybersecurity coordinator; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretaries Janet Napolitano of Homeland Security and Gary Locke of Commerce; and Defense Deputy Secretary William Lynn.

The presentation of the cyber security presented several principles, outlined the approach the US intends to take in the further development of cyber security protections, and indicated how the US might use the Internet to preserve its status as a superpower in the world.

Featured during the presentation were seven principles, which appear in the framework: economic engagement, protecting networks, law enforcement, military cooperation, multi-stakeholder Internet governance, international development and Internet freedom. Within the presentation, Clinton sought to explain that cyber crime, Internet freedom and network security could no longer be "disparate stovepipe discussions."

At no time during the launch of the strategy was WikiLeaks mentioned. Not even Clinton bothered to mention it, despite the fact that she heads a State Department that had their department's classified information leaked and published by media organizations and continue to have new information published each day.

Yochai Benkler, faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has detailed the following:

Four years after its first document release, in 2010, Wikileaks became the center of an international storm surrounding the role of the individual in the networked public sphere. It forces us to ask us how comfortable we are with the actual shape of democratization created by the Internet. The freedom that the Internet provides to networked individuals and cooperative associations to speak their minds and organize around their causes has been deployed over the past decade to develop new networked models of the fourth estate. These models circumvent the social and organizational frameworks of traditional media, which played a large role in framing the balance between freedom and responsibility of the press. At the same time, the Wikileaks episode forces us to confront the fact that the members of the networked fourth estate turn out to be both more susceptible to new forms of attack than those of the old, and to possess different sources of resilience in the face of these attacks. In particular, commercial owners of the critical infrastructures of the networked environment can deny service to controversial speakers, and some appear to be willing to do so at a mere whiff of public controversy. The United States government, in turn, can use this vulnerability to bring to bear new kinds of pressure on undesired disclosures in extralegal partnership with these private infrastructure providers.

This development in the world of the Internet was apparently something US officials, who developed the strategy, felt they did not need to explicitly address. (And that might have something to do with the answer to the question, "Who benefits from this strategy?")

A document outlining the strategy can be read in its entirety.

The strategy makes it clear: the US wishes for the world to know it intends to work in cooperation with other countries all over the world so that nations can realize their "potential for greater prosperity and security." It frames cyber security as an "obligation" that government and societies "must take on willingly, to ensure that innovation continues to flourish, drive markets and improve lives." And, the strategy pledges to confront issues of cyber security in ways "consistent with the principles" the US holds dear: "free speech and association, privacy and the free flow of information."

Through this strategy, the US intends to work toward the achievement of the following goal:

The United States will work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure and reliable information and communications infrastructure in which norms of responsible behavior guide states' actions, sustain partnerships, and support the rule of law in cyberspace.

What might this international cooperation on cyber security and the Internet look like? Released US State Embassy cables likely provide a preview.

The US developed a concern over Internet piracy in Spain in 2008. 08MADRID843 reveals the US identified seven sites by downloads and complained that Spain needed to stop waiting for other countries. The US applied pressure to Spain on behalf of American commerce that wanted the country to strengthen their defense of intellectual property. This led Spain to announce an Inter-Ministerial Commission that would lay the groundwork for legislation against illegal Internet downloads, the Law of Sustainable Economy.

Cables from the US embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, revealed the US also pressured New Zealand to pass an Internet file sharing law, the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill. One cable indicates the US bankrolled local lobbying efforts led by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). At least $533,000 was paid for "enforcement operations and seizures, with percentages or numerical targets reset annually" and for reports submitted by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) detailing "contributions to IP protection and enforcement methodology."

Secret government cables from Sweden show how negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an agreement that aimed "to set a "gold standard' for intellectual property rights enforcement among a small number of like-minded countries," was thought to be negotiated with too much secrecy. The cables feature "a top intellectual property official in Italy" explaining to the US --the level of confidentiality in these ACTA negotiations has been set at a higher level than is customary for non-security agreements" and adding that it was "impossible for member states to conduct necessary consultations with IPR stakeholders and legislatures under this level of confidentiality."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com
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