Biden, Cameron hit out at Internet censorship, hacking

Law and order online is mandatory but not at the expense of civil rights, the leaders said

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday condemned efforts by some countries to censor their citizens' use of the Internet, making a case that free expression online has long-term benefits.

Biden, who spoke via a video link from Washington, D.C., and Cameron addressed delegates from more than 60 countries in London convened for a wide-ranging two-day conference aimed at fostering closer cooperation between nations on issues such as cybercrime and freedom of expression. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been expected to represent the U.S. in person but cancelled due to her mother's death.

"No citizen of any country should be subject to a repressive global code when they send an email or post a comment to a news article," Biden said. "Now, there are some who have a different view you all know."

Last week, China started detaining Internet users for allegedly spreading rumors on social media sites, instructing the country's State Internet Information Office to prosecute offenders. China has a sophisticated network for monitoring websites and social media sites for content it considers offensive, and human censors evaluate and delete what is deemed offensive content.

Biden did not name countries he felt were offenders. But he criticized the efforts of some nations pursuing an "international legal instrument that would lead to exclusive government control over Internet resources, institutions and content and national barriers on the free flow of information online."

"This in our view would lead to a fragmented Internet," Biden said.

In September, the permanent representatives of China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for a code of conduct revolving around the use of information technologies by countries. The countries contend the agreement would ensure peace and security among nations in cyberspace.

Biden said the U.S. strongly supports an existing treaty, the Convention on Cybercrime. The treaty defines legal guidelines for countries seeking to establish effective laws against computer crime as well points of contact for cross-border investigations. China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are not parties to the treaty.

Further, Biden said there are already well-established principles in international law concerning conflict between nations that can be applied online. "We don't need to start from scratch," he said. "International law principles are not suspended in cyberspace."

In his address, Cameron said the U.K. faces attacks every day on an "industrial scale" intended to steal government secrets that would be of interest to nation states. He said a "significant" attack aimed at the U.K. Foreign Office was repelled over the summer.

"These are attacks on our national interest," Cameron said. "They are unacceptable. We will respond to them as robustly as we would do with any other national security threat."

The U.K. has committed £650 million (US$ 1 billion) to shoring up its cyberdefense capabilities following a review of its defense forces, Cameron said. As a priority, cybersecurity ranked right alongside concerns about the size of the U.K. conventional military capabilities, such as tanks and ships, he said.

"That is how important we think this is," Cameron said.

At the same time, governments should not go down the heavy-handed route. "Governments must not use cybersecurity as an excuse for censorship or to deny people their opportunities that the Internet represents. The balance we've got to strike is between freedom and a free for all," Cameron said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags intrusionGovernment use of ITsecuritygovernmentinternetdata protection

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?