WHY POLICING CYBERSPACE IS SO HARD

WHY POLICING CYBERSPACE IS SO HARD

Cyberattacks that rip across the internet at light speed, election meddling and disinformation that tears at the fabric of democracy, the brazen theft of personal data and trade secrets – it’s the Wild West out there in cyberspace. This week, French President Emmanuel Macron called for an international agreement to bring some order to the electronic frontier.


The initiative condemns malicious cyber activities in peacetime and calls for governments to protect the basic functioning of the internet and work with the private sector to improve cybersecurity. But while more than 50 countries and dozens of private sector players signed up, some of the world’s biggest hacking powers – Russia, China, the US, and Israel, are so far absent from the list of signatories.

Here are three of the biggest reasons why establishing rules of the road in cyberspace is so difficult:

Blurred lines: They’re everywhere in cyberspace. Figuring out who launched an attack is hard when hackers from one country can launch viruses from servers in another. The boundaries between state-sponsored cyber operatives and criminal hackers are often fuzzy, giving governments plausible deniability when using these tools. Even more basic than that, there are many ways that governments can seek advantages in cyberspace short of what’s traditionally considered an act of war. Blowing up a power plant would clearly cross a line, but other disruptive activities like election meddling fall into a grey area. Blurred lines like this create space for governments to engage in mischief and make it hard to establish clear boundaries of acceptable behavior.

Cyber superpowers aren’t ready to relinquish their advantages: Some governments don’t want to be constrained by international agreements in cyberspace. Countries with more advanced cyber capabilities may calculate that the benefits they get from going on cyber offense (or even just the ability to threaten cyberattacks) outweigh the benefits they would receive from signing up to a pact that ties their hands. A seven-year UN effort to establish clear cyber norms ended in deadlock in 2017 after a handful of countries, including China and Russia, balked at a US-led attempt to get countries to agree on how international law should apply to the online realm. The US, which has recently staked out a new, more aggressive cyber strategy under President Trump and his national security adviser, John Bolton, is also reluctant to accept curbs on its ability to use hacking as a tool in the national arsenal.

Cyber conflict isn’t (yet) terribly lethal. Around 20 million people died in the First World War before the armistice signed 100 years ago this week. Four times as many died during World War II. In the aftermath of that carnage, the world came together to establish the modern Geneva Conventions to protect civilians during armed conflict and prosecute war crimes. In the 30 years that malware has been around, it has yet to produce a single, verifiable fatality. That day may be coming – there’s little doubt that a cyberattack that knocked out a hospital, power plant, or a city’s water system could cause a potentially significant loss of life. But as long as the main costs of cyber conflict are counted in dollars, and not in blood, it’s going to be hard to generate a consensus on the need for change.

 

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

In 2019, Ethiopia's fresh Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering a peace treaty with neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea. At the time, Abiy was hailed by the Western media as a reformist who was steering Ethiopia, long dominated by ethnic strife and dictatorial rule, into a new democratic era.

But barely two years later, Abiy stands accused of overseeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

It's against this backdrop that Ethiopians will head to the polls on June 21 for a parliamentary election now regarded as a referendum on Abiy's leadership. But will the vote be free and fair, and will the outcome actually reflect the will of the people? Most analysts say the answer is a resounding "no" on both fronts.

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Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, for instance, which is shut out from COVAX due to US sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power — following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars — in a bid to exert its superpower bonafides.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cyber issues took center stage at the G7 summit. Is there a consensus among world leaders on how to handle cyberweapons?

Well, depending on who is included, there is a growing consensus that the escalations of conflict in cyberspace must stop. And G7 leaders that are now all representing democracies did call on Russia to hold perpetrators of cybercrime that operate from within its borders to account. So, I guess hope dies last because laws in Russia prevents the extradition of suspects to the US, even if Vladimir Putin answered positively when Joe Biden asked for cooperation on that front. And when it comes to limiting the spread of tools that are used for hacking, surveillance and infiltration, the EU has just moved ahead and adopted new dual use regulations which reflect the concerns for human rights violations when journalists are targeted the way that Jamal Khashoggi was. So ending the proliferation of systems that are used to attack would be an urgent but also obvious step for democratic nations to agree on.

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Frequently called Europe's last dictator, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Lukashenko has sailed smoothly to victory in all six elections he's stood in, despite widespread corruption and fraud in each one. But in 2020 the biggest threat so far to Lukashenko's tight grip on government came in an unlikely package—a former schoolteacher and stay at home mom, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After the election result was finalized, Lukashenko claimed victory, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets, and Tsikhanouskaya leads the opposition in exile. Lukashenko recently took his boldest move yet, diverting a plane en route from Greece to Lithuania to arrest another Belarusian dissident. Ian Bremmer discusses whether a democratic transition is remotely possible in Belarus on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The fight for democracy in Europe's last dictatorship

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