Official Sees Increasing Investment in Internet Monitoring
- Mar. 11 2013 00:00
- Last edited 19:31
GENEVA — ChinaáandáRussiaáare buying increasingly powerfulásurveillance technologiesáto intercept communications and try to take control of the Internet, a senior U.S. official said.
Alec Ross, the U.S. secretary of state's senior adviser for innovation, said new players such asáThailandáandáUkraineáwould determine the future shape of the Internet by deciding whether to open up globally or operate more closed national "Intranets."
His comments further demonstrate the lack of agreement over how the Internet will be regulated after an attempt to establish a global governance policy collapsed last year.
"Many Middle Eastern countries,áRussia,áChinaáand others I believe, are going to take an increasingly aggressive stand to try to control the Internet," Ross said last week.
"In a world where countries likeáRussia,áChinaáand others are in a completely different place than theáUnited Statesáand when there is a completely different vision for how the Internet should be governed, then I think it's going to be very difficult to get to the point of resolution on some of these issues."
He saidáChina,áRussiaáand others had bought surveillance technology, but lacked the limits required in theáUnited States, where only a judge can order their use for a defined period.
"So part of what I see are billions and billions of dollars of investment going into the next generation of surveillance technologies going into these countries," Ross said.
TheáUnited StatesáandáChinaáhave been squaring off for months over the use of the Internet, each accusing the other of hacking into sensitive government websites.
TheáObama administrationáis committed to defending Internet freedom, a "pillar ofáAmerica's foreign policy priorities," which led it to reject the global treaty last year, Ross said.
The attempt to establish a worldwide policy for oversight of the Internet collapsed ináDubaiáin December after many Western countries said a compromise plan gave too much power to United Nations and other officials.
TheáUnited Statesáand allies fought to keep the mandate of theáInternational Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency, from extending to oversight of the Internet, fearing it could lead to increased censorship and a dramatic reduction in anonymity.
A bloc of countries led byáRussiaáwanted language that could open the door to more regulation of cyberspace on issues from spam, security and the assignment of addresses to web pages.
However, Ross said some 30 new country players, rather than only the existing Internet giants, will take a decisive role in determining whether there is an open global Internet or a "patchwork of national Intranets".
"That's not going to just be decided by the very large countries like theáUnited States,áChinaáandáRussia, it is going to be increasingly decided by countries like Thailand,áUkraineáand a great many others that are becoming newly networked themselves and are establishing the governance norms within their own telecommunications systems," he said.