Joint efforts urgently needed to advance major cyber governance revolution

By Shen Yi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/15 16:47:31

Cybersecurity. Photo: VCG

We live in an era in which social networks prevail and somewhat take a high ground in public opinion. A deliberately-plotted intrusion into other person's social accounts, which might trigger confusion, is clearly something that will have a negative impact, especially on the order of cyberspace.

The so-called Color Revolutions conducted by hegemonic countries with their domination of the internet in the early 21st century and patterns of actions that spread misinformation by stealing an envoy's social media account should both be viewed as acts that seek profits at the cost of cyber order. 

A latest case of such attack: Some anti-China forces maliciously hacked Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming's Twitter account recently, according to a statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in the UK. 

The various means by which some specific purposes or schemes, such as piracy, defamation, harassment, cyber manhunt, incitement, collusion and fake news, have been growing and spreading in the disordered cyberspace. They are becoming increasingly large-scale, politicized and weaponized, posing a severe challenge to global cyberspace governance.  

The benign transformation of the global cyberspace governance order, which had previously been in a state of stagnation, may be able to back on track. This will happen if the main actors in the network space, especially the sovereign states, as well as operators of the main global cyber platforms can cooperate in a responsible way.  

This process will certainly not be smooth, let alone spontaneous. On the whole, the abuse of cyber freedom by some cyber hegemonic forces and multiple standards based on their selfish interests have helped cultivate such irresponsibility in cyberspace. It has also overdrawn the basic trust of global netizens in the order of cyberspace. Such trust, to some extent, is a nonrenewable strategic resource.

Another challenge is to find a new way to carry out balanced cyberspace governance. This obviously requires a consideration of the needs of all sides: the endogenous needs of technology, the development characteristics of the digital economy, and the instinct of pluralistic subjects to improve well-being of human. People need solutions that truly embody broad consultation, joint contribution, shared benefits and collaboration with governance. This kind of solution was already expressed by Chinese leaders at the Second World Internet Conference in 2015, where they put forward a five-point initiative noting that the future and destiny of cyberspace should be in the hands of all countries through communication and cooperation.  

China has been actively implementing these initiatives. In March 2017, the Foreign Ministry and the Cyberspace Administration of China jointly released a document of international cooperation in cyberspace under a theme of peace, development and win-win cooperation in a community of shared future for cyberspace. The document is the first step in a larger international strategy that China has suggested for cyber issues. It points out that cyberspace has brought great opportunities to humanity. Meanwhile, many new problems and challenges have arisen. 

On September 8, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed the Global Initiative on Data Security on behalf of the Chinese government. He noted that "the mounting risks of data security have posed new challenges to global digital governance." Countries urgently need to strengthen communication and build mutual trust to discuss ways to deal with the risks. Essentially, they must work together for digital global governance.

In light of the objective development needs of the internet, all these China-proposed initiatives fully demonstrate that a global community needs a cyberspace governed fairly and properly with participation of all sides. It could be the only choice.

All the negative incidents show that the global cyber governance has now reached a point where the order of cyberspace must undergo a major change. The indulgence of hegemonism (or to let all countries resort to a patchwork of rules) is not the way to solve the problem. The world should work together to build a community of shared future for cyberspace, which will allow all to jointly promote the benign transformation with a new order of global governance. 

The author is director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance of Fudan University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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