Launched by the French government, the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace is over-ambitious and has been shunned by countries that really matter.
The news: France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has unveiled a new multilateral initiative to tackle a global hacking epidemic. The idea is that the signatories to the accord will adhere to a set of common principles for securing cyberspace that are loosely based on previous efforts by the United Nations aimed at defusing tensions online.
The longish list includes principles that would stop cyberattacks on critical infrastructure like electrical grids and hospitals; combat intellectual-property theft online; improve the security of digital goods and services; and outlaw the use of cyber mercenaries to hide the real culprits behind attacks.
The supporters: The Paris Call is backed by more than 50 states, including all of the European Union’s members. It’s also been endorsed by tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook, as well as numerous other companies and nongovernmental organizations.
Conspicuously absent: The US, Russia, and China, who all have huge cyber offensive capabilities, haven’t signed up—presumably because they don’t want to have their hands tied. It’s possible they will sign up later, but without them the accord will be missing the players that matter most.
The (over-ambitious) goals: Getting agreement on all of goals at once will be really hard. As we’ve argued before, it would be better to start with a narrower effort to put critical infrastructure off limits to cyberattacks. If this can be made to stick, then a coalition could subsequently be built around broader goals. If this is how the Paris Call works in practice, then it might stand a better chance of success.
What’s next for the world’s fastest supercomputers
Scientists have begun running experiments on Frontier, the world’s first official exascale machine, while facilities worldwide build other machines to join the ranks.
The future of open source is still very much in flux
Free and open software have transformed the tech industry. But we still have a lot to work out to make them healthy, equitable enterprises.
The beautiful complexity of the US radio spectrum
The United States Frequency Allocation Chart shows how the nation’s precious radio frequencies are carefully shared.
How ubiquitous keyboard software puts hundreds of millions of Chinese users at risk
Third-party keyboard apps make typing in Chinese more efficient, but they can also be a privacy nightmare.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.