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Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Photo: Pavel Golovkin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations adopted an anti-cybercrime pact backed by China, North Korea and Russia Monday, against the wishes of U.S. and pro-civil liberty groups.

The big picture: For years, the United States has squared off with more repressive nations over global internet norms. The U.S. wants countries to offer citizens maximal access to the global internet, while Russia and others argue that countries should have "internet sovereignty" to block websites critical of governments and to punish online dissidents.

Why it matters: The UN resolution could give more legitimacy to the "internet sovereignty" crowd.

Driving the news: The resolution, which passed 88-58 with 34 abstentions, sets up a working group to examine global cybercrime prevention.

  • Critics say the pact provides a veneer of legitimacy for the sovereignty concept while allowing governments to shut off cross-border data access as a tool of oppression or to censor websites when used for "criminal purposes," without defining what those criminal purposes are.

All this comes as Russia prepares to test whether domestic networks could survive detaching the nation from the global internet in an apparent attempt to set up a China-style internet filtering system.

  • "Russia is hoping the resolution will mean that they will more easily be able to shut down the internet," said Kasey Stricklin, a Russia analyst for CNA consulting. "All of this is them hoping the UN will rubber-stamp those activities."

Losing U.S. leadership on internet could be a symptom of the United States' greater abdication of global leadership to countries like China and Russia, who are expanding their spheres of influence in Africa and the Middle East just as the U.S. is abandoning those regions.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two with the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two "assault rifles" believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI told news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry waves as he arrives at the Elysee Presidential Palace on March 10, 2021 in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.