Russia and China increase spending on internet surveillance

08 March 2013 | Kavit Majithia

A senior US official has claimed China and Russia are attempting to gain more control of the internet as they are buying increasingly powerful surveillance technologies.

It is thought the investments have been made to intercept communications, with Alec Ross, the US secretary of state’s senior adviser for innovation, claiming that Middle Eastern countries, China and Russia will take an aggressive stance in trying to take control of the internet.

He also said he believes new players such as Thailand and Ukraine will prove decisive in shaping the role of the internet by deciding whether to open it up globally, or operate more closed national “intranets.”

There is still a lack of direction over how the internet is regulated as the bid to establish global governance policy collapsed last year.

“In a world where countries like Russia, China and others are in a completely different place than the United States and when there is a completely different vision for how the internet should be governed, then I think it’s going to be very difficult to get to the point of resolution on some of these issues,” he said in a press briefing.

The US and China have been in debate for months over internet usage, with both countries making allegations of hacking into sensitive government data.

Ross is now claiming that there is a new elite of countries that will now play a decisive role in an open global internet.

“That’s not going to just be decided by the very large countries like the US, China and Russia,” he said. “It’s going to be decided by countries like Thailand, Ukraine and a great many others that are becoming newly networked themselves and are establishing government norms within their own telecommunications system,” he added.