STATES EMBARK ON A SCRAMBLE FOR CYBERSPACE
It is time to stop thinking of cyberspace as a new medium or an agglomeration of new media. It is a new continent, rich in resources but in parts most perilous. Until 30 years ago, it had lain undiscovered, unmined and uninhabited.
The first settlers were idealists and pioneers who set out from San José, Boston and Seattle before sending back messages about the exciting virgin lands that awaited humanity in the realm of the net. They were quickly followed by chancers and adventurers who were able to make fortunes by devising their own version of the South Sea Bubble.
It was inevitable that the wondrous materials found all over this territory would attract the interest of nation states. Now, the scramble for cyberspace has begun. Military and intelligence agencies are already staking their claim for the web's high ground as civilian powers lay down boundaries to define what belongs to whom and who is allowed to wander where.
Cyberspace is being nationalised rapidly. In some parts of the world, this has been going on for a while. Russia has been running a programme known by the delightfully sinister acronym Sorm-2 (System of operational investigative activities) since the late 1990s. This ensures that a copy of every single data byte that goes into, out of or around the country ends up in a vast storage vault run by the Federal Security Service. You can read about atrocities committed in Chechnya if you wish but you can be confident that somebody will be looking over your digital shoulder.China, of course, has its “great firewall”, filtering politically incorrect sites along with pornography and other forms of cultural contamination. But of even greater import is China's demand, effectively conceded, that the US relinquish control of the internet's language and domain names through the Californian non-profit organisation Icann. This is being transformed into a United Nations-style regulatory operation. China will soon have absolute say over the internet's structure within its borders.
The legal mapping of cyberspace in the west is more chaotic. But we are now witnessing the establishment of myriad laws and rules by legislators and in the courts. In a hearing this week at Blackfriars Crown Court in London following a major cybercrime trial, Harendra de Silva QC put his finger on it when he argued that “we are entering a world where almost any human interaction of any kind will require use of the internet”.
So while there is clearly a pressing need to define rules that apply in cyberspace, they are emerging at speed with little coherent strategy behind them. Nobody knows where this process will lead for two central reasons. The speed of technological change means that the traditional tools of state used to carve up the world in the 19th century, such as laws and treaties, are often inadequate, if not entirely irrelevant, when applied to this new domain.
Law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the Serious Organised Crime Agency in Britain have invested considerable time and money in bringing down criminal networks on the web. But as the Internet Crime Complaints Centre in the US has just reported, the losses from cybercrime continue to climb at a staggering rate because criminals adapt at lightning speed to new policing methods.
In the commercial world, major legislation concerning copyright, such as Britain's Digital Economy Bill, is unlikely to withstand the second great variable – the coming of age of the net generation. Laws banning file-sharing are likely to prove as unpopular as the poll tax that helped bring down the Thatcher government. They also look utterly unenforceable.
As a harbinger of change, we are seeing political parties springing up throughout Europe with names such as the Internet party or the Pirate party, which understand the web as simply part of human DNA. “In the collision between the old and the new on the web,” argues Rex Hughes, a Chatham House fellow who is leading a cybersecurity project, “the old always wins the first few rounds but eventually they die off.”
But the greatest battle is happening in the area of cyberwarfare and cyberespionage. Symbolically, the US designated cyberspace as the “Fifth Domain” last June and the first man-made one after land, sea, air and space. Nato lawyers are trying to work out how the laws of war operate in cyberspace. Hysteria is accompanying this new arms race, as when Admiral Mike McConnell, former director of US National Intelligence, claimed at a Senate hearing last month that “if the nation went to war today in a cyberwar, we would lose”.
Meanwhile, the phenomenon of “anonymisation”, so useful for cybercrime, is a gift to intelligence agencies as they sniff into every corner of the web to find out who is up to what.
None of this would amount to a hill of beans were it not for Mr de Silva's point that everything we do is somehow mediated by the web. Governments are becoming obsessed about the need to control the internet but have yet to work out how to do this without suffocating the noble goal of those pioneers who merely wanted to facilitate communication between ordinary people. Heaven forbid!The writer's latest book is McMafia: A Journey through the Global Criminal Underworld
第一批移民是来自圣何塞、波士顿和西雅图的理想主义者和先驱们。他们传回消息，说网络大陆到处是令人兴奋的处女地，正等待人类的进驻。投机者和冒险家们很快闻风而至，通过策划另一个版本的“南海泡沫”(South Sea Bubble)，这些人得以发家致富。
网 络空间正在迅速地国有化。在世界某些地区，这一进程已经持续了一段时间。自上世纪90年代末以来，俄罗斯就一直在实施一项名为“操作与调查活动系统”的计 划，该计划有个邪恶得可爱的简称——“Sorm-2”。这项计划确保每个进入、流出该国或在该国境内四处传输的数据字节得到备份，最终形成一个庞大的信息 储存库，由俄联邦安全局(FSB)负责管理。如果你愿意，你可以通过网络浏览在车臣上演的种种暴行，但可以肯定的是，有人正在网络上监视你的操作。中 国自然有它自己的“防火长城”，用于过滤政治上不正确的网站、色情网站以及其它形式的文化垃圾。但更重要的一点是，中国要求美国放弃对互联网语言和域名的 管控权（这一管控通过加州非盈利组织ICANN实施），而美国做出了切实的让步。这一管控将转变为一种联合国式的监管操作。不久之后，中国对其境内互联网 架构将具有绝对的决定权。
在西方，网络空间的立法则处在更为混乱的状态。但我们现在看到，有无数法律法规正由立法者或在法庭上确立起来。本 周，伦敦Blackfriars刑事法庭在审理一起重大网络犯罪案件后举行了听证会，王室法律顾问哈伦德拉•德席尔瓦(Harendra de Silva QC)在会上明确指出了这一现实。他表示：“我们正进入这样一个时代：人际交流几乎全部要使用互联网——不管是哪一种交流。”
因 此，尽管我们确实亟需制定适用于网络空间的法规，但这些法规出现的速度却过快，其背后缺乏协调一致的战略。由于两个关键原因，没有人知道这一进程将会造成 什么局面。技术变革的速度意味着，19世纪各国用来瓜分世界的传统手段，例如法律和条约，往往不足以应用到这一新领域中，甚至可能全然无用。
为 了打击网络犯罪组织，美国联邦调查局(FBI)和英国有组织犯罪重案局(SOCA)等执法机构都投入了可观的时间和财力。但美国互联网犯罪投诉中心 (ICCC)近期报告称，网络犯罪所造成的损失以惊人的速度不断攀升，因为犯罪分子能够以闪电般的速度根据新的管理办法调整作案方式。
在商 业领域，与版权有关的重要法规，如英国的《数字经济法案》(Digital Economy Bill)，不太可能抵挡住第二大变数——互联网一代即将成年——的影响。事实将证明，禁止文件共享的法律很可能会像当年促成撒切尔(Thatcher) 政府下台的人头税一样不受欢迎。此外，这类法律看起来也是完全不可能执行的。
欧洲各地正涌现出名为“互联网党”或“盗版党”之类的政 党，他们认为网络完全是人类DNA的一部分。这是变革的一个前兆。英国皇家国际事务研究所(Chatham House)研究员雷克斯•休斯(Rex Hughes)指出：“网络新旧两派势力展开的冲突中，旧势力总能赢得最初几个回合，但最终他们会消亡。”休斯目前正负责一个网络安全项目。
不 过，最大规模的战斗发生在网络战和网络间谍领域。去年6月，美国把网络空间定为陆地、海洋、天空和太空之外的“第五领域”，也是第一个人工领域。这是一项 具有象征性的举措。北约(Nato)的律师们正试图解决如何把战争法应用于网络空间的问题。伴随这场新军备竞赛的是歇斯底里。上月在美国参议院举行的一次 听证会上，前美国国家情报总监、海军上将迈克•麦康奈尔(Admiral Mike McConnell)断言：“如果今日国家要打一场网络战，我们将会战败。”
若不是因为德席尔瓦所说的“我们所做的每件事或多或少都借助于网络”，上述这一切都微不足道。各国政府正一心想着需要控制互联网，但迄今却未想出如何控制才不致扼杀网络先驱们的崇高目标——先驱们只不过是希望方便普通人之间的交流。但愿这一目标不会被扼杀！米沙•格伦尼是新书《超级黑帮：揭秘全球地下经济》(McMafia: A Journey through the Global Criminal Underworld)的作者