via the Council on Foreign Relations
On Monday, China, along with Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to circulate their proposed International Code of Conduct for Information Security as a formal UN document at the 66th session of the General Assembly. The Global Times quotes foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying that “China believes information and Internet security is a common challenge facing all countries, thus it can only be effectively coped with through international cooperation.”
U.S. policymakers will be pleased to hear Chinese officials framing Internet security as a global problem requiring international cooperation, but the rest of the proposed code is bound to give them heartburn. The title alone, with its focus on information security, signals the problems to come in the document. Information security includes not only the protection of computer, communication, and other critical networks that is the primary focus of U.S. officials, but also the threats that the free flow of information can present to domestic stability in closed authoritarian states–hello Twitter and the Arab Spring. The document refers to the use of communication technologies that “are inconsistent with the objectives of maintaining international stability and security,” as well as the responsibility to “prevent other states from…undermin[ing] the right of the countries, which accepted this Code of Conduct, to independent control of ICTs.” This is going to be hard to square with the State Department’s support for the “Internet in a suitcase,” and other circumvention technologies designed to get around the Great Firewall.