The U.S. Is Targeting International Cyberspace

On Monday, May 6, the U.S. State Department published a new U.S. Strategy on International Cyberspace and Digital Policy.

The introductory part mentions that this document was prepared on the basis of the National Security Strategy of 2022, the National Cybersecurity Strategy of 2023 jointly with other federal agencies, and the future digital strategy of the USAID agency will complement it.

The strategy is based on three principles. This is a positive vision of cyberspace and digital technologies that are aligned with international obligations and international law, including human rights. This is the integration of cybersecurity, sustainable development and technological innovation into an overall strategy. And an integrated policy approach that uses the appropriate tools of diplomacy and international public administration throughout the digital ecosystem.

In these principles, it is easy to see the previous imperatives of US foreign policy – Washington’s unipolar hegemony known as the rules-based order; attempts to maintain monopolies in information technology; the desire to impose their own standards on the rest of the world, which are beneficial for promoting American business and additionally serve as tools of control and manipulation.

At the same time, the United States does not forget that they are not alone, and approaches to cyberspace may differ. Therefore, “The State Department will step up efforts to strengthen digital solidarity through active participation in international, multilateral and multi-stakeholder bodies where commitments, norms, standards and principles affecting cyberspace, digital technologies, the Internet and technological aspects are being developed. While progress on these platforms may be slow and gradual – often depending on their goals — the lack of U.S. leadership in international forums may allow adversaries to fill the void and shape the future of technology to the detriment of U.S. interests and values.”

The section “The Digital World: Opportunities and challenges” says that digital technologies are revolutionizing the way of life, work and learning. The economy, education and social services are being linked, new markets are being created, and business is increasingly moving beyond the borders of national states (both for consumers and suppliers of goods and services). It is obvious that the United States aims to manage these processes, albeit not directly, but indirectly, through its proxies in commerce.

It is also noted that “the geopolitics of cyberspace is competitive and complex. Malicious State and non-State actors have developed capabilities and demonstrated an intention to put critical infrastructure, critical functions of the State and even individual citizens at risk. Authoritarian states promote competing forms of technological governance that use mass surveillance, data collection methods that violate privacy, and online censorship tools that threaten an open, compatible, secure, and reliable Internet. Technology is opening up new ways and tools to commit crimes, and the rapid spread of personal information on the Internet has expanded the scope of threats. The proliferation and misuse of commercial spyware poses a threat to national security because it targets U.S. officials abroad; commercial spyware is also used to track down and intimidate alleged opponents, facilitate efforts to curb dissent, and thus undermine democratic values.”

If we apply this to the recent history of the United States, then this passage about threats is quite applicable to the United States itself and its partners. The Stuxnet virus, developed by Israel and the United States, was launched against Iran’s critical infrastructure. And a larger operation, codenamed Nitro Zeus, was being developed by the United States to carry out a cyberattack.

The former head of the NSA and the US Cyber Command, Paul Nakasone, has repeatedly and officially confirmed the fact of cyber attacks on Russia’s infrastructure.

The Pentagon’s latest strategy for conducting operations in the information environment also points to the offensive and global nature of the intervention and manipulation of the US military. As is the latest US cyber strategy, where a number of states are designated as targets to be attacked.

In this regard, the section of the new strategy on cyber attacks and threats differs little from previous documents over the past 15 years. China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, as well as criminal groups, terrorists and extremists are designated as threats. At the same time, China and Russia are mentioned again in the next section, where it is said that they “change the norms governing cyberspace, undermine the technical basis of the Internet and weaken responsibility for the malicious use of cyberspace capabilities by authoritarian countries.”

However, all discussions on Internet regulation are conducted through the International Telecommunication Union and UN special groups. How do China and Russia change the norms if all discussions are conducted on the basis of an international legitimate body? Apparently, the United States subtly hints that both countries have the sovereign right to control their own Internet space, but they do not openly talk about it, since there are many more states that, in general, take the same position.
By the way, in the next section on Internet freedoms, the authors of the strategy take the same hypocritical position. Allegedly, the Chinese Communist Party has imposed censorship, and Russia has imposed restrictions and filters content on the Internet. But Google’s actions to restrict or completely ban content on Youtube or similar Meta measures to enable special algorithms for Facebook are not mentioned. But it mentions the need to protect the rights of the LGBT community on the Internet, which is presented as participation in democracy and civic life.

The interest in the digital economy on the part of the United States is also understandable – it is control over transactions, even if payments are made in conditional tokens. And using the example of sanctions, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba know perfectly well what control over payment instruments means. This section also evasively says that some countries pursue a policy of digital sovereignty and protectionism, but the United States continues to engage internationally in its processes, which are issued under the label of interoperability and market access.

As the future directions of the State Department’s work on the digital topic, it is possible to highlight the interest in the private sector, civil society and the creation of “digital solidarity”. This means that the United States will continue to create fifth columns in various countries under the guise of journalists, NGOs and human rights groups. Through partnership agreements and international programs, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Agreement for Prosperity, the Digital Transformation Initiative with Africa, the American Partnership for Economic Prosperity, the G7, OECD, TTC and Quad, the United States will pursue and impose its digital trade and data management policies. ASEAN countries, as well as a number of Latin American states and countries of the Middle East, are on the list for delaying into bonded agreements on standards and data exchange. Activity in the Council of Europe, the United Nations and UNESCO is planned.

The USAID agency is often mentioned, which will partially provide support for the implementation of this strategy.

The action plan outlines the protection of information integration, that is, the continued promotion of various narratives beneficial to the United States and attacks on those who criticize Washington’s digital hegemony; the creation of new alliances and partnerships through cyber cooperation; close cooperation with the Department of Defense, the FBI, the NSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and Cyber Command, and in the external environment with NATO, ANZUS, South Korea and Japan. It is supposed to monitor activity around the clock and deploy special networks that include experts, technical staff, prosecutors and special services of the United States and partner countries to collect information and counter various actors.

The authors of the strategy make no secret that “efforts to build cyber capabilities, which are usually aimed at strengthening a country’s ability to adopt and develop policies and strategies in cyberspace or improve its technical capabilities to detect, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents, have a direct and positive impact on international cyber stability and the security of U.S. citizens.” That is, all programs of assistance to other countries in the field of cybersecurity, one way or another, are aimed at ensuring the comfort of American citizens. By the way, the map of US activity through the partnership on digital connectivity and cybersecurity from 2018 to 2024 shows the members of the EAEU – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, as well as fatkically all states of the post-Soviet space, with the exception of Russia, Belarus and Turkmenistan.

A separate item is the development of new tools and technical support from other countries. Previous US clients include Ukraine, Costa Rica and Albania.

The conclusion says that the United States will build on the initial successes achieved as a result of the adoption of the Code of Conduct at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, the Biden-Harris Executive Order on AI and the AI Security Summit in the UK.
Allies and partners, along with the private sector, will develop a common understanding and principles for ensuring the security of the entire digital ecosystem. More concrete efforts will be made through the UN. And the State Department will use the funds of the Cyberspace, Digital Communications and Related Technologies Foundation to respond quickly and effectively to incidents and provide assistance.

By the way, the United States itself interpreted the release of the new strategy exclusively in an offensive way. Thus, the mouthpiece of Democrats and globalists – CNN TV channel on May 6 published an article entitled “The new US strategy is aimed at weakening Russian and Chinese influence in cyberspace,” which says that “a new ambitious cybersecurity strategy is aimed at limiting the digital influence of Russia and China in developing countries and suppressing alleged attempts by these countries to interfere in elections”.

And then there is a quote from the chief cyber diplomat of the State Department, Nathaniel Fick, who stated that “we have informed and will continue to inform Russia and China that we consider interference in our democratic processes in the United States absolutely unacceptable.”

Of course, this is reminiscent of the old story about interference in previous elections. And, lacking any more plausible story, the State Department continues to make unsubstantiated and irresponsible statements as comments on the new strategy.

The U.S. Is Targeting International Cyberspace

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