Saturday, December 12, 2009
Concerns over cybercrime bring United States back to Internet talks
News from Geneva that the United States has agreed to discuss Internet security with Russia and the United Nations raises hopes of a new treaty between the world powers to demilitarize cyberspace. The very existence of the talks represents a huge shift in U.S. policy since a new president took office in January, since the previous government in Washington had refused to discuss the subject with Russia for years, according to the New York Times. The negotiations also are further evidence of friendlier relations between Moscow and Washington since Barack Obama became president of the United States in January, as they are proceeding in tandem with talks expected to lead to a new round of cuts in the two countries' nuclear weapons arsenals. Talks with UN disarmament negotiators are expected to resume in January along with informal discussions at an Internet security conference in Germany. The renewed efforts apparently mean the Obama administration is taking the issue of computer security seriously despite differences with the Russians on enforcement issues, the Times said. Some experts say the two superpowers are trying to avoid an Internet arms race in which countries develop increasingly powerful cyberweapons to disrupt computer systems that control weapons and security in other nations, which is why UN arms control negotiators are becoming part of the talks. The United States had previously considered the negotiations as a purely economic matter. But last month, high-ranking Russian security officials met in Washington with representatives of the National Security Council and the U.S. departments of state, defense and homeland security, the Times said, setting up the January dates for serious negotiations.