27 Countries Sign Pledge to Play Nice Online
Countries around the world have joined forces to declare that they are fed up with the lawless state of cyberspace.
As the newest frontier to be riddled with humanity, it’s perhaps no surprise that while cyberspace has brought with it some positives like the promotion of free expression, it has also given rise to behavior that goes way beyond bad.
In a joint statement published yesterday at the United Nations, 27 countries pledged their support to clean up an arena that has become the digital equivalent of the old Wild West.
The statement, which was affirmed by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, declared: “State and non-state actors are using cyberspace increasingly as a platform for irresponsible behavior from which to target critical infrastructure and our citizens, undermine democracies and international institutions and organizations, and undercut fair competition in our global economy by stealing ideas when they cannot create them.”
Signatories called for nations to act online in accordance with international laws reflecting the voluntary norms of responsible state behavior in peacetime, before stating that “there must be consequences for bad behavior in cyberspace.”
The countries said that they would work together to hold states accountable for their digital misdeeds. No specific countries were named and shamed in the statement; however, the digs about undermining democracies could be construed as a reference to Russia, which has been accused of meddling in elections in the US, the Ukraine, and France.
“The recently issued statement still does not clarify how and when attribution can be effectively used in cyberspace,” Isidoros Monogioudis, senior security architect at Digital Shadows, commented to Infosecurity Magazine. “Furthermore, some topics are still in the negotiation phase, so the concept of ‘responsible state behavior’ is still not fully defined. This might ultimately create challenges.”
Noting which countries had not signed the statement, Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra, told Infosecurity Magazine: “This is a document that doesn’t include the most cyber-capable countries, such as Russia, China, and Iran, who are constantly engaged in cyber-warfare. Frankly, I’m not sure what impact, if any, this will have.”