nav search

Biden: The internet ain't broke, let's not fix it

US rejects calls for 'national barriers on information'

By Brid-Aine Parnell, 1 Nov 2011

LCC

US Vice President Joe Biden has made it clear that America is not interested in the sort of global internet rules that China and Russia have been calling for.

China, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan proposed a voluntary "code of conduct" for information security to the UN in September.

Countries following the code would have “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and respect for the diversity of history, culture and social systems of all countries”, and promise “not to use information and communications technologies, including networks, to carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression, pose threats to international peace and security or proliferate information weapons or related technologies”.

But they would have to curb “the dissemination of information that incites terrorism, secessionism or extremism or that undermines other countries’ political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment” as part of the pact.

The US has shown before that it’s reluctant to sign any sort of restrictive internet treaty and Biden, speaking at the London Conference on Cyberspace (LCC), agreed with remarks by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Prime Minister David Cameron that the internet needed to stay free and open and out from under heavy government control.

“There are some who have a different view, as you know. They seek 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,” Biden said.

“But this, in our view, would lead to a fragmented internet, one that does not connect people but divides them, a stagnant cyberspace, not an innovative one, and ultimately a less secure cyberspace with less trust among nations.”

He added that existing international law principles existed in cyberspace as well as the real world, so there was no need for additional regulation, a view he summarized in one of his favourite adages – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The vice president addressed the conference over a video link from Washington, after a planned visit from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was cancelled when her mother fell ill. ®