President Barack Obama called for a series of international agreements to regulate activity on the Internet, citing his preference not to start an arms race in cyberspace.
“What we cannot do is have a situation where this becomes the wild, wild West, where countries that have significant cyber capacity start engaging in unhealthy competition or conflict through these means,”
President Obama said during a press conference in China on Monday after the G-20 Summit, referring to every country using the Internet as they wished, including using it to hack into other countries’ data. He added that nations have enough to worry about in the realm of cyber attacks from non-state actors without nation-states engaging in hacking against one another. Obama claimed, however, that America was winning the Internet battle, despite repeated hacks into the data controlled by the U.S.
“Frankly, we’ve got more capacity than anybody, both offensively and defensively,”
He bragged, referring to a growing escalation of cyber-capabilities from other governments.
He added that he wanted to avoid an arms race in cyberspace, but rather institute international norms “so that everybody’s acting responsibly.”
Russian hackers having been implicated in some current cyber threats and security issues was a key topic. Though Obama didn’t identify specific instances, he said:
“we have had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past”
And that the goal is to not to duplicate a “cycle of escalation” that has occurred in arms races of the past. This cycle of escalation refers to the trade of vulnerabilities and the expansion of capabilities by military actors to attack one another in a shadowy war known as a cyber war. Journalists questioned the President about recent reports that Russian hackers had hacked into voters’ election data, and he declined to discuss the reports in detail, citing an ongoing investigation.