In response to a reported wave of cybertattacks, the United States and China will be holding talks on how the two countries can create new rules for regulating the internet. The talks will be ongoing and are set to start in July.

The United States and China have agreed to hold regular, high-level talks on how to set standards of behavior for cybersecurity and commercial espionage, the first diplomatic effort to defuse the tensions over what the United States says is a daily barrage of computer break-ins and theft of corporate and government secrets.

The talks will begin in July. Next Friday, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China, who took office this spring, are scheduled to hold an unusual, informal summit meeting in Rancho Mirage, Calif., that could set the tone for their relationship and help them confront chronic tensions like the nuclear threat from North Korea.

While the stated focus is security, Washington’s actual agenda is likely trying to find ways to stop a massive organized effort of intellectual property theft by China .

The head of the United States Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has said the attacks have resulted in the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.” Hackers have stolen a variety of secrets, including negotiating strategies and schematics for next-generation fighter jets and gas pipeline control systems.

U.S. officials assert that People’s Liberation Army, Unit 61398 is behind many of the cyberattacks occurring in America.

If the talks are successful the norms created for cybersecurity may end the internet as we know it. While SOPA was beaten back, attempts to find ways around the current open web have continued with CISPA and, pending these negotiations, more restrictions on open access to information may be forthcoming. The future of the open internet hangs in the balance.

Image from Bazonka under Creative Commons license.