By Shubhangi Roy
Twice in the past five years, the issue highlighting the need for an international forum for cyberspace regulation and security have been deliberated at the United Nations. Twice, the U.S. has vehemently objected to the concept. The first time was in the year 2010 when Russia tabled a draft convention on cyber crimes at the UN and the second time was when the U.N. deliberated an international communications treaty under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The recent US-Brazil stand off on the matter of NSA breaching the privacy and security of cyber space citizens has brought the issue back to the centre stage. Not that the Snowden leaks weren’t enough to create the sparks, but this has set off a diplomatic fire that can easily turn against the seemingly messianic yet truly self-interest motivated actions of the United States government.
Those following the diplomatic dispute between the heads of the two nations declared the fight to be won by Obama, considering the relatively smaller and less powerful nation he was pitted against. But the reality is it persisted longer than one would have thought. When the Brazilian Prime Minster cancelled her U.S. trip, many assumed that the puckering nation of Brazil would soon retrace its steps and reconcile with Uncle Sam considering its dependency on trade relations with USA. The recent shut down in the US has ensured that the Obama government stays preoccupied and will bother less with a relatively less significant nation’s anger over one of the many human rights violations it has committed.
To be fair, they have gotten away with murders and devastating entire Middle East nations without having to placate a soul, this is merely a matter of a few mail inboxes. The US government must surely be astonished at how far off Brazilian priorities are!
But the world is a lot less tolerant of the self-proclaimed God of Democracy and moral custodian PR podium that the United States has created for itself, than it was a few years ago. The past few international incidents have all seen the U.S. batting for the wrong side, including the most recent Syrian chemical warfare issue.
The time is ripe for another attempt to establish an international governance system to regulate the ever increasing cyberspace. If all else fails, at least the BRICS nations should exploit their unanimous approval of such an international governance system to create a smaller yet effective prototype for themselves and lead the world with their example. After all, the very reason for the creation of BRICS or for that matter any smaller blocs of nations is to create an outfit big enough to negotiate and hold their own in the big bad world of bullies.
The depressing and foreseeably troubling issue in leading by example here would perhaps be India. It recently supported the U.S. stand on this matter in Dubai during the deliberations on the International Communications Treaty. At the moment, it seemed like the Indian government was more worried of irking their newly made friend who they hope to create a successful energy relation with. But recent news revealed by The Hindu assessed the tactics of India’s Central Monitoring System (CMS) to be a leaf borrowed from NSA’s big fat book on cyber spying. This troubling news item, if reliable, gives a whole new perspective to the Indian stand on the matter and the future becomes murkier in light of the India-U.S. Memorandum to share “cyber security information and expertise”.
Is India going the U.S. way on its stand of cyber security v. cyber privacy? Or is the present UPA government simply worried that a stand against the U.S. would ruin its only decent foreign relation legacy of the past 10 years of its spectacularly corruption and scam ridden rule?
She is a third year student pursuing B.A. LLB. (Hons) at Gujarat National Law University. She is presently on the editorial board of two books and a few of her research papers are in the process of being published. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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