In a speech earlier this week in South Korea, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Internet “needs rules to be able to flourish and work properly” even though it is “a technology founded on freedom” and serves as “a key component of our foreign policy.”
Translation: America should, for no reason whatsoever, surrender control of the Internet – a technology that the United States invented and perfected – over to international bodies like the United Nations and unaccountable policy and enforcement committees made up of rouge countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Iran.
Pointing out the obvious using the detached pointy-headed Ivy League thinking, Kerry said, “Acts of aggression (in cyberspace) are not permissible” and that those hurt by an attack have a right to respond in ways that are appropriate, proportional, and that minimize harm to innocent parties.
He made these statements without defining what “hurt” means, who determines if an “attack” has occurred and in what ways a “response” would be “appropriate” and “proportional” to the harm done.
Would regimes in China, Russia and Iran regard free speech and dissenting opinion an “attack” on their Internet infrastructure? Would intellectual property theft, privacy hacks, cyber warfare and other digital Internet attacks be MORE illegal under Kerry’s amorphous plan? Kerry continues:
“We…support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace. We view these as universal concepts that should be appealing to all responsible states, and they are already gaining traction.”
These principles – which are already well established – include:
• No country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages or impedes the use of another country’s critical infrastructure.
• No country should seek either to prevent emergency teams from responding to a cybersecurity incident, or allow its own teams to cause harm.
• No country should conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information for commercial gain.
• Every country should mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from its soil, and they should do so in a transparent, accountable and cooperative way. And;
• Every country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyberattack.
In a classic example of a solution in search of a problem, Kerry says:
“I guarantee you if those five principles were genuinely and fully adopted and implemented by countries, we would be living in a far safer and far more confident cyberworld.
“But even with these principles, ensuring international cyber stability will remain a work in progress. We still have a lot of work to do to develop a truly reliable framework – based on international law – that will effectively deter violations and minimize the danger of conflict.
Finally, Kerry returns to form by saying:
“To build trust, the UN Group of Governmental Experts has stressed the importance of high-level communication, transparency about national policies, dispute settlement mechanisms, and the timely sharing of information – all of them, very sound and important thoughts.
The bottom line is that we who seek stability and peace in cyberspace should be clear about what we expect and intend, and those who may be tempted to cause trouble should be forewarned: they will be held accountable for their actions.”
How surrendering American sovereignty over the Internet to a “UN Group of Governmental Experts”… pursuing his vapid “important thoughts”… and how offenders – who could be a single computer nerd in his basement causing chaos rather than an identifiable nation state – would be “held accountable for their actions” Kerry does not say.
If anything, Kerry’s comments reveal one truth. We need a new team in Washington that puts American interests first before Kerry and his ilk can complete the task of giving away the Internet store.