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As Russian and Chinese business and government agencies face more intrusions, the two BRICS members are looking to step up cooperation on fighting cyber attacks and the threat of sensitive technology ending up in the wrong hands.
A Kremlin source was quoted by the Kommersant business daily on Tuesday as saying the agreement could be signed during Putin’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on 10th November. The move has been seen as a necessary step in the wake of revelations leaked to media in June 2013 by CIA whistle-blower Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) global espionage and communication monitoring scheme, known as Prism.
A joint declaration at the end of the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil earlier this year said the bloc of five will explore “Russia’s proposal of a BRICS agreement on cooperation” in cyber-security.
BRICS nations were angered by revelations by US whistleblower Snowden that the US National Security Agency snooped on oil and energy firms in Brazil and intercepted calls and emails of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
In July this year, Putin said the current cyber-espionage narrative “not only amounts to overt hypocrisy in relationships between allies and partners, but also a direct violation of the state’s sovereignty, an infringement on human rights and an invasion of privacy”.
Meanwhile, in yet another recent episode that threatens to undo efforts aimed at finding common ground to tackle hacking, the Chinese Foreign Ministry this month told the US to stop “fabricating stories” and “mudslinging” about alleged Chinese commercial spying. A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official has accused China of stealing secrets from US firms.
Sino-US ties have long been dogged by accusations of cyber espionage.
In May this year, a senior Chinese military officer labelled the United States the world’s biggest cyber-thief a week after a grand jury in Washington indicted five Chinese officers on charges of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.
“In terms of both military and political intelligence and trade secrets, the United States is the world’s No.1 cyber thief and its spying force should be indicted,” Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said.
“From Wikileaks to the Snowden incident, the U.S. hypocrisy and double standards on the issue of network security have long been obvious,” the Chinese Defence Ministry said in a statement, lashing out at the US indictment.
The US is the biggest attacker of China’s cyberspace, with US servers taking control of 1.18 million Chinese host computers between March 19 and May 18, according to the China Internet information office.
Meanwhile, European Union member states have called on the EU Parliament to adopt legislation on new data protection as soon as next year. This follows reports from Austrian media, which published a number of photographs claiming they proved that the Washington-based NSA was operating a secret listening post a short distance from the Vienna International Centre (VIC).
The photos depict a listening post atop a skyscraper in the Austrian capital Vienna, located next door to the VIC which is considered the third United Nations headquarters after New York and Geneva, and regularly hosts meetings.