News / Science & Technology

China, Russia Seek Greater Control of Internet, US says

A man uses a computer at an internet cafe in central Beijing, China, Dec. 28, 2012.
A man uses a computer at an internet cafe in central Beijing, China, Dec. 28, 2012.
Reuters
— China and Russia are buying increasingly powerful surveillance technologies to intercept communications and try to take control of the Internet, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

Alec Ross, the U.S. secretary of state's senior adviser for innovation, said new players such as Thailand and Ukraine would 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, Russia, China and others I believe, are going to take an increasingly aggressive stand to try to control the Internet," Ross told a news briefing.

"In a world where countries like Russia, China and others are in a completely different place than the United States and 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 said.

Ross said China, Russia and others had bought surveillance technology, but lacked the limits required in the United 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," he said.

The United States and China have been squaring off for months over the use of the Internet, each accusing the other of hacking into sensitive government websites.

The Obama administration is committed to defending Internet freedom, a "pillar of America'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 in Dubai in December after many Western countries said a compromise plan gave too much power to United Nations and other officials.

The United States and allies fought to keep the mandate of the International 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.

Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in Mumbai, Jun. 9, 2012.Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in Mumbai, Jun. 9, 2012.
x
Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in Mumbai, Jun. 9, 2012.
Protesters from the Anonymous India group of hackers wear Guy Fawkes masks as they protest against laws they say gives the government control over censorship of internet usage in Mumbai, Jun. 9, 2012.
A bloc of countries led by Russia wanted 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 the United States, China and Russia, it is going to be increasingly decided by countries like Thailand, Ukraine and a great many others that are becoming newly networked themselves and are establishing the governance norms within their own telecommunications systems," he said.

Ross, who said he was leaving government to write a book and start a company, was speaking in Geneva where the United States honored six "Internet Freedom Fellows" working to overcome challenges in countries including Russia and Iran.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid