China and Russia were acquiring increasingly powerful surveillance technologies to intercept communications and try to take control of the internet, a senior US official said yesterday.
According to Alec Ross, the US secretary of state's senior adviser for innovation, new players such as Thailand and Ukraine would determine the future shape of the internet by deciding whether to open up globally or operate more closed national "Intranets".
His comments come as further evidence showing a lack of agreement over how the internet would be regulated after the collapse, last year of an attempt to establish a global governance policy.
"Many Middle Eastern countries, Russia, China and others I believe, are going to take an increasingly aggressive stand to try to control the Internet," Ross told a news briefing.
"In a world where countries like Russia, China and others are in a completely different place than the United States and when there is a completely different vision for how the Internet should be governed, then I think it's going to be very difficult to get to the point of resolution on some of these issues."
He pointed out that China, Russia and others had bought surveillance technology, but the countries lacked the limits required in the US, where only a judge could order their use for a defined period.