The threat of cyber warfare is clearly becoming a national interest issue for many countries around the world everyday. It is against this backdrop that Britain has initiated talks with Russia and China about setting up a hotline for faster communications in managing situations during cyber emergencies.
The said discussion, while still at an early stage, reveals the subdued anxiety of all parties involved in a potential cyber calamity that can cause devastating consequences for the world economy unless there’s a faster way for senior leaders to talk to each other.
The United States government had been communicating with China about the issue. Ideas about the subject will be discussed in today’s international conference being held in Hungary.
The event, which is planned to last until tomorrow, 5 October, is being attended by 600 diplomats and representatives from 50 countries. This is a follow-up conference from last year’s London event. One of the aims of this conference is to set rules of behavior in cyberspace amidst today’s situation that almost every state with the right budget and resources can potentially attack, steal from and disrupt their enemies remotely.
Both Russia and China are main proponents of state-restricted future of the internet as well as for formal arms-control-type agreements to handle online threats.
They are being blocked by American and European countries about their proposals though. The UK has been a staunch defender of internet freedom and says that controlling the internet can only impact the economy in a negative manner and curtail freedom of speech.
Little progress has been made so far according to insiders as the two opposing sides battle each other. Negotiations have been dragging for some time now.
The need for cyber hotline is seen as pressing for the U.S. and the U.K. as the cyber arena is ever becoming larger everyday. The two countries have felt genuine threat to western economies and national security amidst the increasing number of incidents in the cyberspace.
A British Foreign Office official remarked: “At the moment, we don’t really have sufficient information-sharing arrangements with some countries such as China and the Chinese computer emergency response team.”
“There isn’t a form of crisis communication. If we can build that sort of partnership and relationship then the normative framework develops around that. If you ask for assistance, you get a response. That develops into an obligation to assist. One isn’t naive about that, but I don’t think the Chinese or the Russians enjoy uncertainty, not knowing who to turn to, who to talk to.”
The official also added that the present emergency system to deal with a potentially catastrophic cyber incident is still not robust enough.
The UK is reportedly trying to establish a new cyberhub at one of its top universities to help the government in making decisions and formulating initiatives in cyberspace.
China is said to be maintaining its position regarding the matter, which are still unacceptable for western countries involved in the talks.