Last year, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared cyberspace to be the “fifth domain” of military operations, alongside land, sea, air and space. It is the first man-made military domain, requiring an entirely new Pentagon command. That went fully operational a week ago, marking a new chapter in the history of both warfare and the world wide web.
The US is not alone. Many countries, including the UAE, China and India, have had issues with Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry, over e-mail encryption.
Russia has a slightly different approach. It has built up a monumental Big Brother appartus that goes under the acronym SORM-2. A copy of every little byte that goes in, out or across Russia is copied to a central storage computer in Moscow under the control of the FSB, the KGB’s successor. Should the organisation ever need the co-operation of a fellow citizen, then the information stored on the FSB’s computers can provide useful leverage to overcome any reluctance.
What's in store for regular users? Surely, not something as drastic as this?
China has argued that the next generation of computer users will need to pass the equivalent of a driving test before its members are allowed to surf parts of the web essential for day-to-day life. The idea has triggered a huge backlash among civil libertarians worldwide who warn that such a move would undermine completely the very freedoms that the internet was designed to promote