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China Demands Global ‘Code of Conduct’ For the Internet

On Friday, a Chinese official declared to the United Nations General Assembly that it was “highly necessary and pressing for the international community to jointly bring about an international code of conduct on cyberspace at an early date.”

The demand from Wang Qun, director-general of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was reported by China’s state-run Xinhua news service.

According to Xinhua, Wang’s idea for a code of conduct would “resolve international disputes in this field by peaceful means and ensure that the cyberspace can only be utilized for activities for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

He added that “cyberspace should not be used as a means to interfere in the internal affairs of other states or to the detriment of their national interests.”

Wang is demanding global Internet censorship under the control of authoritarian regimes like Beijing, which of course would have some very strict ideas about what sort of speech fails to meet that “maintenance of international peace and security” standard.

What kind of dissident rhetoric would authoritarians allow, if they could block everything that might “interfere in their internal affairs” or work to the detriment of their national interests?

Wang thought the United Nations’ reports on information security supported this call for a global code of conduct, which he saw as the next stage in achieving a “peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace.”

China came out of its presidential visit to Washington with nothing but the lightest rhetorical slap on the wrist for its cyber-espionage activities, including the Office of Personnel Management hack, a direct attack on the U.S. government that stands as the most severe data breach in the Internet’s short history. Now they are pushing full steam ahead with Internet controls and censorship. Releasing control of Internet domains to a foreign body, as President Obama wishes to do, is madness. Too much of the rest of the world agrees that “free and open” means censored and controlled.

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