Cybersecurity law finds a cradle in US-China cybercrime truce

The United States and China agreed that timely responses should be provided to requests for information and assistance concerning malicious cyber activities.

Recently, US and China arrived at a fundamental agreement. The agreement covers the fundamental principle that neither country would engage in cyber economic espionage. Based on information available in the public domain, the following are the ten salient features of the agreement:

a. The United States and China agreed that timely responses should be provided to requests for information and assistance concerning malicious cyber activities.

b. Further, both nations have agreed to cooperate in a manner that is consistent with their respective national laws and relevant international obligations, especially with requests to investigate cybercrimes, collect electronic evidence, and mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from their territory.

c. Both sides also agreed to provide updates on the status and results of those investigation to the other side, as appropriate.

 Cybersecurity law finds a cradle in US-China cybercrime truce

(Image: Reuters)

d. The United States and China agreed that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.

e. Both sides committed themselves to making common effort to further identify and promote appropriate norms of state behaviour in cyberspace within the international community.

f. The United States and China welcomed the July 2015 report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International security, which addresses norms of behaviour and other crucial issues for international security in cyberspace.

g. The two sides also agreed to create a senior experts group for further discussions on this topic.

h. The United States and China agreed to establish a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues. This mechanism will be used to review the timeliness and quality of responses to requests for information and assistance with respect to malicious cyber activity of concern identified by either side.

i. As part of this mechanism, both sides agreed to establish a hotline for the escalation of issues that may arise in the course of responding to such requests.

j. Finally, both sides agreed that the first meeting of this dialogue will be held by the end of 2015, and will occur twice per year thereafter.

Image credit: Getty Images

Image credit: Getty Images

The aforesaid are some of the important salient features of the cybercrime truce accord agreed to between US and China.

US has made it crystal clear that sanctions would be used against all legal entities apart from all other tools that US has in its toolkit to go after cybercrime either retrospectively or prospectively. Both the countries have principally denied taking part in cyber theft or any activities which tantamount to cyber theft of commercial secrets.

The perusal of the available information reveals that the same shows various distinctive achievements.

This agreement represents the first agreement between these two super-powers on ensuring that they do not engage in mutually destructive cyber activities. The said agreement also is the recognition of the fact that both countries recognize that cyber economic espionage could be detrimental for the growth of the target country.

By entering into this agreement, both the countries endorsed the “No Harm To Each Other” Principle.

Also, the said agreement represents a step forward in the direction of growth and evolution of cyber security law. Seen from a perspective, figuratively speaking, cybersecurity law finds a cradle in US-China cybercrime truce.

By both the countries agreeing not to engage in cyber economic espionage and by agreeing on cybercrime truce, the countries have also paved the way for lesser cyber security breaches emanating from their respective boundaries.

At a time, when there is no international treaty or norm on cyber security law, the said mutual agreement between both the powers represent a substantial step forward. The said agreement also represent a growing realisation that thefts of trade secrets would potentially harm the growth of not just corporates but also both the nations. Cybercrime is emerging as one of the biggest challenges to sovereign nations and sovereign nations should take proactive steps to address the same including engaging in cooperation with other nations.

The pact also seeks to create the delicate balance between protection and preservation of national security on the one hand and fighting cybercrime on the other. Seen from the overall growth of jurisprudence, the said joint agreement represents a commitment to following the norms of behaviour in cyberspace approach. Hence, both the countries have once again reiterated their commitment to rule of law and its applicability. In that regard, the said agreement represents a distinct step forward.

Cyber security law as a discipline has to evolve substantially in the coming times. All stakeholders need to contribute to the same, in order to enable the Internet to be a safe, secure and better paradigm for the entire mankind. Internet is the transformative crystal that we as mankind have to save and preserve for our future generations.



The author Pavan Duggal is an Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and is a leading expert on Cyberlaw & Mobile Law. For more information, visit

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