Australia and India Commit to Free and Open Internet

Australia and India’s foreign ministers have affirmed their support for a free and open internet amid ongoing concerns that authoritarian regimes will try to mould the future of cyberspace to include more censorship and control. Australia’s Marise Payne and India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar announced the creation of the new Cyber Framework Dialogue at the tail-end of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) in Melbourne, Australia on the weekend, where foreign ministers from Australia, India, the United States, and Japan met to discuss a range of issues including global security, economic development, and the response to COVID-19. “The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to an open, secure, free, accessible, stable, peaceful, and interoperable cyberspace and technologies that adhere to international law,” according to a statement by Payne and Jaishankar after a one-on-one meeting on Feb. 12. Both ministers said new technology should be developed and governed with respect to democratic values and a respect for human rights. India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) speaks along with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne (R) at a press conference following a bilateral meeting during the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) in Melbourne, Australia, on Feb. 12, 2022. (William West/AFP via Getty Images) “They condemned attempts to use cyberspace and cyber-enabled technologies to undermine international peace and stability and committed to working cooperatively to strengthen mutual cooperation in various multilateral fora, including the United Nations, in developing international standards, norms and frameworks for cyberspace and critical and emerging technologies,” the statement continued. Such norms should be developed in collaboration with various global bodies and United Nations-backed groups, according to the ministers. Payne and Jaishankar also agreed to work together to deal with the “significant threat” of malicious cyber activity by “state and non-state actors.” The moves from Australia and India come as democratic nations and authoritarian regimes begin squaring off on a new geopolitical frontline—the future of the internet. Currently, countries like China, Russia, and Turkey place heavy controls over how users can browse the internet, and cyber experts have raised concerns that ongoing development of cyberspace—particularly as new infrastructure gets introduced—could see the online world divided between the current, open internet and a new, heavily restricted version. In fact, in 2017, Chinese leader Xi Jinping articulated a vision for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to start “using technology to rule the internet” and to achieve control over every part of the ecosystem, including applications, content, quality, and manpower—this would ultimately give Beijing “discourse power.” A version of the fragmented internet already exists with users in China having limited—and heavily controlled—means to communicate online with overseas-based individuals, especially given the restrictions on platforms such as Facebook and Google in mainland China. Follow Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Contact him at [email protected]

Australia and India Commit to Free and Open Internet

Australia and India’s foreign ministers have affirmed their support for a free and open internet amid ongoing concerns that authoritarian regimes will try to mould the future of cyberspace to include more censorship and control.

Australia’s Marise Payne and India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar announced the creation of the new Cyber Framework Dialogue at the tail-end of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) in Melbourne, Australia on the weekend, where foreign ministers from Australia, India, the United States, and Japan met to discuss a range of issues including global security, economic development, and the response to COVID-19.

“The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to an open, secure, free, accessible, stable, peaceful, and interoperable cyberspace and technologies that adhere to international law,” according to a statement by Payne and Jaishankar after a one-on-one meeting on Feb. 12.

Both ministers said new technology should be developed and governed with respect to democratic values and a respect for human rights.

Epoch Times Photo
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) speaks along with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne (R) at a press conference following a bilateral meeting during the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) in Melbourne, Australia, on Feb. 12, 2022. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

“They condemned attempts to use cyberspace and cyber-enabled technologies to undermine international peace and stability and committed to working cooperatively to strengthen mutual cooperation in various multilateral fora, including the United Nations, in developing international standards, norms and frameworks for cyberspace and critical and emerging technologies,” the statement continued.

Such norms should be developed in collaboration with various global bodies and United Nations-backed groups, according to the ministers.

Payne and Jaishankar also agreed to work together to deal with the “significant threat” of malicious cyber activity by “state and non-state actors.”

The moves from Australia and India come as democratic nations and authoritarian regimes begin squaring off on a new geopolitical frontline—the future of the internet.

Currently, countries like China, Russia, and Turkey place heavy controls over how users can browse the internet, and cyber experts have raised concerns that ongoing development of cyberspace—particularly as new infrastructure gets introduced—could see the online world divided between the current, open internet and a new, heavily restricted version.

In fact, in 2017, Chinese leader Xi Jinping articulated a vision for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to start “using technology to rule the internet” and to achieve control over every part of the ecosystem, including applications, content, quality, and manpower—this would ultimately give Beijing “discourse power.”

A version of the fragmented internet already exists with users in China having limited—and heavily controlled—means to communicate online with overseas-based individuals, especially given the restrictions on platforms such as Facebook and Google in mainland China.


Follow

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Contact him at [email protected]