White House unveils first international cyber security strategy

The Obama administration promised to use the nation's diplomatic muscle to defend free speech and property rights online on Monday during the rollout of the first-ever White House international strategy for cyberspace.

A series of speeches by senior administration officials at a White House event clearly laid out the administration's priorities when it comes to discussing digital policy with key international trading partners.

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"I have every confidence that this new strategy will allow us to build on the record of progress that’s been achieved in recent years in preventing and combating cybercrimes – and in more effectively ensuring that the Internet will continue to provide a forum for open discourse, a marketplace for commercial innovation, and a safe environment for our children to communicate and learn," said Attorney General Eric Holder.

"But – to get where we need to be – we must bring even more government and industry partners into this work."

Those priorities should be familiar to technology policy observers: safeguarding U.S. intellectual property, protecting friendly networks from criminals and enemy states, giving law enforcement agencies the access needed to investigate crimes, and preserving freedom of expression through an open Web.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her department is trying to integrate cyberissues into all of its programs, further evidence of how technology issues affect almost every other policy area in the digital age. She emphasized the U.S.'s commitment to preventing censorship of the Internet globally.

"We are supporting the efforts of human rights and democracy activists to ensure that they have access to an open Internet," Clinton said.

"We are funding cutting-edge programs to give them the tools and the know-how to communicate effectively and safely to get their message out, even as governments try to silence them or cut them off from the Internet."

White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt joined his colleagues in emphasizing that no single department or agency could claim complete responsibility for cybersecurity, so international and inter-governmental cooperation will be needed to improve the current security regime.

"To achieve our vision, the United States will build an international environment that ensures global networks are open to new innovations, interoperable the world over, secure enough to support people’s work, and reliable enough to earn their trust," Schmidt said.

"To achieve it, we will build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behavior guide states’ actions, sustain partnerships, and support the rule of law."

The portion of the strategy related to the military's use of cyberspace states that the U.S. reserves the right to take any actions necessary to safeguard its interests and national security in cyberspace.

That appears to correspond with public statements from military leaders that the U.S. will take offensive actions when it perceives a risk to national security.

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