In the past two years, the industry has been proposing new cyber norms to protect cyberspace. The industry is increasingly stepping into a norm-developing role, which was previously mainly the ambit of governments. In this space, you can follow the developments on two main proposals: Microsoft's proposed Digital Geneva Convention, and Google's proposed legal framework for digital security and due process.
Past events and discussion reports:
Microsoft’s call for a Digital Geneva Convention (February 2017) – which should ‘commit governments to avoiding cyber-attacks that target the private sector or critical infrastructure or the use of hacking to steal intellectual property’ – attracted the attention of the digital policy community. It brought into focus the idea that, in the search for a more secure and stable Internet, Internet companies need to engage with governments and work together on reasonable policy arrangements. The proposal gave rise to many pertinent questions related to the future of digital governance, in particular in the security field. Here, we address some of them.
In April, Microsoft’s Brad Smith announced three new documents that continue to shape the proposal for a Geneva Digital Convention. The first carries key clauses which should form part of the convention; the second outlines a common set of principles and behaviours for the tech sector to help protect civilians in cyberspace; the third proposes the setting up of an independent attribution organisation to identify wrongdoing.
The Internet industry is under increasing pressure by governments to provide digital information to be used in criminal investigations and anti-terrorist activities. Traditional channels for international cooperation are slow and cumbersome. A regular legal process for obtaining digital evidence via Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) may take at least ten months. To bring the legal system up to speed for the digital era, Google has proposed new norms for providing digital evidence to foreign governments.
Google’s proposal would allow law enforcement to request digital evidence directly from Internet companies, bypassing the need to go through MLAT channels. According to the proposal, this would work only between countries that adhere to privacy, human rights, and due process standards.
Microsoft’s proposal for a Digital Geneva Convention marks a new phase in the Internet industry’s diplomatic efforts. Microsoft is among the few Internet companies that have embraced diplomacy as an approach to shaping global public policies. For example, in 2015, after following closely the diplomatic dialogue shaping norms of state behaviour in cyber-space and confidence-building measures (CBMs), especially within the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Microsoft proposed a set of cyber-norms for states, which was further updated with the proposal of cyber-norms forthe ICT industry in 2016.
Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss. Read more about Cybersecurity
Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.
The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda. Read more about Cyberconflict
The concept of global public goods can be linked to many aspects of Internet governance. The most direct connections are found in areas of access to the Internet infrastructure, protection of knowledge developed through Internet interaction, protection of public technical standards, and access to online education. Read more about Global public goods
The human rights basket includes online aspects of freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, rights of people with disabilities and women’s rights online. Yet, other human rights come into place in the realm of digital policy, such as children’s rights, and rights afforded to journalists and the press. The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online is the underlying principle for human rights on the Internet, and has been firmly established by the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council resolutions. Read more about Other human rights
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Curator: Stephanie Borg Psaila
[Last updated: 24 April 2018]