A framework to establish transnational rules, norms and institutions to manage and reduce risk for global finance and trade is needed for the internet.
In an article for the Washington Post, James Andrews Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that there is no cyber cold war, and that a real attack on the United States would trigger a damaging response and get in the way of business.
He said: “To make cyber space safe, we need something like Bretton Woods. After repeated financial crashes (the last of which, in 1929, led to global depression and war), the United States and its allies created the Bretton Woods system to establish transnational rules, norms and institutions to manage and reduce risk for global finance and trade.
“We can do the same for cybercspace. This does not mean creating a one-ring-to-rule-them-all internet body, nor does it mean an all-Government approach. It means agreement on a collective approach to reduce risk and follow principles for stability.”
Lewis said that better cyber security requires that nations agree on the norms and rules for responsible behaviour in cyber space, both for states and for powerful companies. “Agreement is possible even among adversaries, as there is shared interest in making our digital economic backbone stable and more secure,” he said.
Lewis admitted that the Bretton Woods system was not perfect, but it was better than the chaotic national approaches that preceded it. “Some countries will balk at following the rules — as they balked at rules against nuclear proliferation or money-laundering — but the right blend of incentives and penalties (such as indictments in U.S. courts) will help change their minds,” he said.
“Agreement on rules would ultimately reduce risk, and in a perfect world, international accord on cyber security would be enough to protect us. But reaching such an accord won’t be easy or quick.”
He concluded by saying that getting such a rule of law in cyber security requires collective action, nationally and internationally, and for now, that still requires US leadership. “Until a new political consensus is forged, progress in cyber security will be slow. Cyber security is a good test of whether the United States has the resolve and the skills to maintain the world order it created decades ago.”
In a recent article by the Guardian, world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that the world needs an online ‘Magna Carta’ to combat growing Government and corporate control, and called for a bill of rights that would guarantee the independence of the internet and ensure users’ privacy.
In his opening keynote yesterday at IP Expo, Berners-Lee said that it was important that the internet had no “attitude or centre”, and that was part of why the fight for net neutrality was so important, to keep a platform that does not require asking permission.
He said: “The internet was designed so cleanly as it was designed with no centre and developing the web is hard work as is keeping it as one web, and open, but you can spread across the internet and build into it the same thing and do whatever you like. If you want to build a new experience, you don’t have to ask me for permission as there is no central control. A central point of control would have stopped its growth.”