CIA hacking leak exposes cyber governance loopholes

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/9 0:38:39

Your phone and TV are likely being spied on! This is what WikiLeaks claimed in the latest dump of 8,761 files about the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) worldwide hacking operations. According to the documents, the CIA has been attacking and controlling operating systems such as Windows, Android, iOS, OSX, Linux on smartphones and smart television sets.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden soon sent a series of tweets explaining that the documents "look authentic," while noting the CIA reports show the US government is "developing vulnerabilities in US products, then intentionally keeping the holes open," in order to practice hacking operations around the world.

Since Snowden disclosed a classified US intelligence project codenamed PRISM in 2013, people have started to get suspicious about what exactly the relationship is between the US government and its tech companies. The recent exposed files, if authentic, are proof that the US National Security Agency does not even need to use the traditional way of espionage - decoding information it intercepted - but only needs to copy the information from tech and communication companies.

Are we living in a panopticon, in which our lives are being observed at all times? Thanks to whistleblowers like Snowden, the answer has been proved to be yes more than once. What's worse, our data is not only under surveillance by the US government, but also by US tech enterprises that make large sums of money out of it.

The US has made some remarkable achievements in its network attacks over the past decades, including paralyzing its enemies' information systems during the Gulf, Kosovo and Iraq wars. Today, Internet hegemony is still grasped firmly in the hands of Washington.

However, no country has the right to monopolize the Internet. At this point, someone must step forward to promote a revolution in global Internet governance.

Earlier this month, China released the International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace, articulating that the principle of sovereignty covers all aspects of state-to-state relations, which also includes cyberspace and that "no country should pursue cyber hegemony … or engage in, condone or support cyber activities that undermine other countries' national security."

So far, the Internet is basically under the control of the US. If we want to eliminate potential hazards from that, new laws, codes of conduct and a management mechanism for Internet services are necessary. 

The only solution for Washington, if it still wants to retain its image as a responsible major power, is to join other nations in improving the rules and management of the global Internet. 

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