Russia has taken the unusual step of posting a proposal for a new information security collaboration with the United States of America, including a no-hack pact applied to electoral affairs.
The document, titled "Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin on a comprehensive program of measures for restoring the Russia – US cooperation in the filed [sic] of international information security", opens by saying "one of today's major strategic challenges is the risk of a large-scale confrontation in the digital field" before adding: "A special responsibility for its prevention lies on the key players in the field of ensuring international information security (IIS)."
Russia therefore wants to reach agreement with the USA on "a comprehensive program of practical measures to reboot our relations in the field of security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)".
Putin suggested four actions could set the ball rolling:
- Resuming "regular full-scale bilateral interagency high-level dialogue on the key issues of ensuring IIS".
- Establishing and maintaining "continuous and effective functioning of the communication channels between competent agencies of our States through Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers, Computer Emergency Readiness Teams and high-level officials in charge of the issues of IIS within the bodies involved in ensuring national security, including that of information".
- Jointly developing "a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on preventing incidents in the information space similarly to the Soviet-American Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas in force since 25 May 1972". That agreement aimed to reduce the chance of a maritime incident between the then-USSR and the USA, and included de-escalation measures to stop an incident going nuclear.
- Exchanging "guarantees of non-intervention into internal affairs of each other, including into electoral processes, inter alia, by means of the ICTs and high-tech methods".
Russia stands accused of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election with widespread use of fake social media accounts. The USA's Federal Bureau of Investigations last week warned: "Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in US democratic institutions." On 17 September FBI director Christopher Ray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee Events and named Russia as a nation already interfering in this year's elections (video below).
It is unclear if Russia's document elicited a public response from the USA.
The two nations sought a cyber-détente in 2017, when Putin and Trump discussed a Cyber Security unit with unspecified functions and purposes.
Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
The effort was quickly explained away as a policy thought bubble that was floated without any accompanying detail. The idea deflated soon afterwards, leaving the two nations in their current state of uneasy enmity... ®
The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't-but a ceasefire can,& did!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017