IGF 2022 Parliamentary roundtable: The role of parliaments in addressing cyberthreats

1 Dec 2022 10:45h - 12:00h

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Demystifying cybersecurity, cyberthreats, and their consequences for the society at large, but also for parliamentarians, is essential. For the internet to remain open and safe, there is a need to reaffirm that the resolutions and regulations drafted to address these digital policy challenges should be human-centric.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) takes up the issue of cyberthreats as one of the causes of instability in our digitally connected world. It is in the self-interest of parliamentarians to be involved in these discussions because of the risks democracy faces from cyberthreats, misinformation, etc. 

At a political level, there is a need for a higher level of understanding of the cyber threats that exist and the need for coordinated action to counter them. Attempts should be made to make good use of the international instruments that have been developed such as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. 

Cybersecurity laws are an essential framework for addressing cyberthreats. Where they don’t exist yet, parliaments should focus on passing them on as a matter of urgency. In this context, the model law launched by UNECA was cited. It was shared that UNECA research found that 10% GDP is lost to cybercrime and there can be an increase in GDP by 0.66–5.4% on improving cybersecurity measures.

There is a need to:

  • pass laws that will create the adequate policy and institutional frameworks for effectively and efficiently addressing cyberthreats, in line with the principles of the rule of law, judicial oversight, transparency, accountability, and respect for internationally recognised human rights.
  • strengthen the international multistakeholder cooperation to address cross-border cybercrime
  • consider the ratification of existing international instruments such as the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention) and regional instruments such as the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (Malabo Convention) 
  • prioritise efforts to encourage a culture of cyber hygiene
  • create open spaces of conversation and bring cybersecurity discussions into political debates. There should be proactive dialogue and proactive debate involving all stakeholders.

In terms of international multistakeholder model initiatives, examples cited were:  Freedom Online Coalition (Ghana), Global Internet Forum, GFCE,  the IGF and the National and Regional IGFs, ICANN, IETF, the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).

It was pointed out that, at the national level, parliamentarians can act as the link between high-level conversations with the other stakeholders involved in addressing cyberthreats. On the role of other stakeholders, the civil society can collaborate with parliaments in ensuring accountability and oversight. The civil society and the private sector were encouraged to see parliamentarians as a link to get their voices heard. 

On what parliamentarians bring to the IGF, it was noted that parliamentarians bring to the table the complexity of multistakeholder and multiparty democracy, as well as the diversity of perspectives from the different actors that are part of their constituencies. 

It was suggested that there could be a measure of progress on how effective the Parliamentary track is in maintaining a continuous dialogue among parliamentarians, but also between parliamentarians and other stakeholders. The engagement of parliamentarians in national and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs) was also encouraged. The next step will be the preparation of an output document of the parliamentary track to sum up the advice of the round tables and the preparatory sessions. 

By Amrita Choudhury


The session in keywords

WORDCLOUD Parlamentary round table IGF2022