Biden calls for creating ‘rules’ on cyber, tech to combat China and Russia threats

President Biden on Friday called on the United States and other democratic nations to shape the “rules of the road” on cybersecurity and tech issues, particularly as part of efforts to confront China and Russia. 

“We must shape the rules that will govern the advance of technologies and the norms of behavior in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, so they are used to lift people up, not used to pin them down,” Biden said during remarks at the White House as part of the virtual Munich Security Conference. 

Biden zeroed in on confronting China on these issues, in particular on ensuring greater transparency in terms of individuals and groups behind major Chinese companies. 

Concerns that tech groups, such as social media platform TikTok and telecom giant Huawei, may have ties to the Chinese government, has been the major motivating factor behind pushback against them from the United States. 

“U.S. and European companies are required to publicly disclose corporate governance structures, and abide by rules to deter corruption and monopolistic practices,” Biden said. “Chinese companies must be held to the same standards.”

Biden also noted that setting norms in cyberspace was essential to standing up to Russian aggression. 

“This is also how we are going to be able to meet the threat from Russia,” Biden said. “The Kremlin attacks our democracies and weaponizes corruption to try to undermine our system of governance … that’s why addressing Russian recklessness and hacking into computer networks in the United States and across Europe and the world has become critical to protecting our collective security.”

Biden’s comments come as his administration continues to grapple with the full extent and fallout from a recent cyber espionage incident, which has become known as the SolarWinds breach, that compromised at least nine federal agencies and 100 private sector companies. 

Federal officials said in January that Russia was “likely” behind the incident, ongoing since 2019, that exploited vulnerabilities in software from IT group SolarWinds and likely other companies to gain access to customer networks, which included the majority of U.S. federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Biden discussed the hack with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their first conversation after Biden took office, and a top White House official said earlier this week that Biden will soon roll out “executive action” to address “gaps” in U.S. federal cybersecurity once the review of the SolarWinds incident is complete. 

“The challenges with Russia may be different than the ones with China, but they are just as real,” Biden emphasized. “It is not about pitting East against West, it’s not about wanting conflict, we want a future where all nations are able to freely determine their own path without a threat of violence or coercion.”

Tags biden administration China cybersecurity Foreign policy Hacking Joe Biden Russia SolarWinds Vladimir Putin

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