Washington, Apr 28 (EFE).- The United States Thursday unveiled a global declaration on collective efforts to curb rising “digital authoritarianism” after Russia “aggressively promoted” disinformation and censored online news sources during the invasion of Ukraine.
The National Security Council of the White House shared the document. “Declaration on the Future of the Internet” signed by more than 60 other countries.
“We have seen a trend of rising digital authoritarianism,” a senior administration official told reporters in a virtual background press briefing.
“Some states have been acting to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sources, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens human rights.
The official cited Russian disinformation campaigns after the invasion of Ukraine as an example.
“The last two months have provided an extreme example of such behavior in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said the official.
“Russia has aggressively promoted disinformation at home and abroad, censored Internet news sources, blocked or shut down legitimate sites, and gone so far as to physically attack the Internet infrastructure in Ukraine.”
The official said Russia was “just one of the leaders in a dangerous new model of Internet policy along with China and some of the other most censorial states in the world.”
The European Commission, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Argentina, and Ukraine have signed the document.
The US government hopes that more nations will join the list shortly.
The text of the declaration does not directly mention Russia or China, but it asks signatories to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people and protect and strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to governance “that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.”
It urges the nations to advance inclusive and affordable connectivity “so that all people can benefit from the digital economy.”
The US argues that the strategy is a response to attempts by Russia and China to create a “splinternet” – increasingly fragmented access to networks depending on political and technological factors.
“We are not, we and our allies are not here to splinter the Internet but, frankly, to save it from splintering,” the administration official said.
“You know, there has been a determined effort, as you said, to try and set up the two multiple Internets, each — each different. And we are — and our allies — reaffirming the vision of one Internet for the world.”
He said the Internet was originally a network of networks designed to interconnect everyone. “And we are here to try to restore that vision.”
Despite the emphasis on cybersecurity, President Joe Biden’s administration does not see the declaration as a treaty on cyber warfare.
“It is not about cyber warfare. There may be some overlap. We have principles related to cyber ransoms, electoral interference. Some people consider electoral interference to be the edge (of cyber attacks). So I think it is compatible with some of the developing principles in cyber warfare, but it is not a cyber warfare treaty or anything — or agreement.”
Even so, Washington advocates “that there needs to be almost constitutional principles for countries that ‘it shalt and shall not’ — things that should be off limits.” EFE