Exclusive - Written by Abril Trankels
The cyber world, although unknown and anarchic, has not yet managed to become an alien field to the power struggle that marks the international panorama.
During the last week, the United States and the EU have been denouncing the Chinese regime, which has repudiated the alleged cyber attacks and acts of cyber piracy in its territories. However, the conflict is no exception to the rules that the current power struggle imposes on all countries or regional integrations, as is the case of the European Union. The margin for action is clearly limited in view of the cost of going to the forefront against the Asian giant.
In the case of the European Union, an attempt at a "third position" has been made. This seeks to denounce the crimes that today threaten the security of the region (in terms of patents, vaccines, data on the infrastructure of public and private entities, among others), without the need to make explicit the guilt of Xi Jinping's government. Such a position is to be expected, especially considering the progress made by the EU after D. Trump's withdrawal from the White House, which led to closer ties through an investment agreement.
On the U.S. side, although a stronger response to these Chinese events is to be expected, the U.S. is not exempt from domestic blame in the area of cybersecurity, which somewhat erodes its legitimacy in the matter. The Biden administration has made its denunciations of China clear. However, the issue remains merely enunciative. This type of event embodies the relationship of dependence of both the EU and the United States, which, being actors of profound relevance, nevertheless manage with a clearly limited margin of maneuver when dealing with China.
The impossibility of determining a normative framework for the control and regulation of cyberspace is not only the result of the well-known anarchy that defines the international sphere, but also of an issue still unresolved by the powers themselves: the competence of the state in both regulation and intervention in information technology matters, and its limitations. Clearly, this debate can be easily resolved under authoritarian governments, where the power exercised is not subsumed to any standard except that of the will of their leaders; the issue becomes a real controversy in those countries where the principles of freedom and democracy are supposed to be defended.
This has been crystallized recently by the scandal between the FBI and one of the most powerful channels in the US, Fox News. Without going into the specific case, the conflict involves the FBI's tapping and listening to private entities without any support to justify it, (understanding that the invasion of privacy is a crime, and the exception for this type of state organizations is based on: national security and possible foreign threats). The Biden administration has not yet taken a position that defends the private sector domestically as it has done against the Asian giant.
While the Chinese advance does not seem to find any parameters to such issues, the term "legitimacy" is further marginalized, once again affirming the rawness of the power struggle. The question remains open for the American case, both in terms of its willingness to firmly maintain its denunciation of what is today its greatest ally and enemy at the same time; and on the other hand, its internal coherence with the preaching it spreads abroad in the premature cyberspace.