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U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Sept. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Expanding International Norms After the U.S.-China Cybertheft Agreement

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016

For the past five years, the focus of international negotiations on cybersecurity has been the creation of norms, or an expectation among governments on how each one will behave. To set a baseline for responsible state behavior, governments have tried extending current international commitments and international law into cyberspace, while discussing where new norms are needed.

But when it comes to espionage, by design, international law does not apply: There are no commitments not to spy, as countries don’t want formal constraints on their intelligence agencies. While there are implicit norms that guide spying, they are few in number, flexible and opaque. This lack of norms and international laws governing espionage is a problem for cybersecurity, where spying is out of control. ...

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