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Hague refuses to name nations which cyberattack Britain

'Vigorous private discussions' shall be theirs, though

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LCC The London Conference on Cyberspace wasn't a forum for outing the states that had launched cyberattacks in the UK, the Foreign Secretary said yesterday.

One of William Hague's "messages" from the conference, outlined in his closing remarks, was that "state-sponsored attacks are not in the interests of any country long-term, and those governments that perpetrate them need to bring them under control".

The statement was rather weak when compared with the Prime Minister's promise in his speech on Monday that the UK would respond "robustly" to any cyberattack.

When challenged on why Britain hasn't done more about the state-sponsored attacks that have already happened, Hague told reporters that they were going about this issue in a diplomatic way.

"We have not been having a judgemental conference. I don't think you can simultaneously hold a conference of this kind, drawing governments into the discussion and then doing the equivalent of pointing the finger at them all saying 'You are guilty men'," he said.

He also said that people made a lot of assumptions about who was behind state attacks and they weren't always right.

However he added that he expected the government would have "vigorous and private discussions about these things" in the future.

The conference has also come under some criticism for apparently stirring the brewing trouble between Western countries and China and Russia over the issue of internet regulations.

William Hague acknowledged that the UK and US message from the conference that the internet shouldn't be subject to strong state control was in some conflict with China and Russia's call for a code of conduct online, but said he hadn't expected to solve that conflict in the last two days.

"There's a difference between Britain, the US and European societies on the one hand and China and Russia, of course. There's different attitudes to freedom of expression, offline as well as online," he told reporters, adding that he didn't expect to "square" those differences right now.

However, he reiterated the British government's stance that there should be freedom of expression and openness online and said states that hoped to curb their citizens on the web were likely to be disappointed.

"In the long term, efforts to resist the free flow of information, the tide that's going towards greater transparency and accountability, will fail," he said.

A statement on the findings of the conference can be found here. ®

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