Editor   18 Apr 2015   Internet Governance

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What are the terms of the social contract that governs the behaviour of citizens, corporations, and governments in cyberspace, and how do we find the right balance between freedom, security, and economic growth in relation to cyberspace?

These were the opening remarks of Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders who spoke during the Opening Session of the Global Conference for Cyber Space, which took place on 16-17 April at The Hague, the Netherlands.

The rules and norms that apply offline, including the tenets of international law, also apply online. This means that countries should be able to count on other states not interfering with or harming their root servers and their critical infrastructure and services, he said. This cannot be taken for granted, however, as we are living in a complex security environment, both physically and virtually.

He also said that the Netherlands, in cooperation with its partners, was proposing an ambitious agenda for the near future, to help bring about a free, open, and secure Internet. To achieve these goals, the international community needs to continue engaging with all stakeholders.

Referring to the growing number of cyberthreats, Interpol president Mireille Ballestrazzi said that international cooperation is needed to combat cyberthreats and security in cyberspace is our common responsibility.

Interpol has adapted its work over the years, and has just launched a multistakeholder alliance which pools resources to meet emerging cyberthreats, she said.

Interpol's Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) was launched earlier this week in Singapore, and aims to empower law enforcement officers worldwide with cutting-edge tools and knowledge against twenty-first-century crime.

In an interesting analogy with roads, vehicles, and buildings, Google vice-president Vint Cerf said that as we need our roads to be safe and secure, we similarly need cyberspace to be safe and secure. Citizens want to feel safe, whether offline or online, and GCCS2015 will be helping us explore ways of making cyberspace a safe place.

Cyberspace needs global policies to keep the traffic flowing, and to make it accessible for everyone. Looking to the future, Cerf noted that the Internet will become more and more an Internet of Things without human intermediaries.

Nnenna Nwakanma from the World Wide Web Foundation emphasised that the Internet is a global common good, and that high prices that marginalise groups need to be tackled. The challenge is to make sure that everyone people can access all of the Internet, any time.

Freedom of expression is our collective challenge. Officials are avoiding the rule of rule of law, and are mounting pressure on the private sector. At the same time, illegitimate mass surveillance is taking place in democratic countries.

On security and privacy, she said that the two can live together, and that in matters of surveillance, we need to ask whether these surveillance actions are legal, legitimate, necessary, adequate, proportionate, transparent, and whether they follow due process. Bulk data collection by default can never be acceptable.

Concluding, she noted that the conference must recognise that the future depends on openness and inclusiveness, and that we need to continue embracing the multistakeholder process. The Internet belongs to all of us, and everyone should be able to connect to it.

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé said that the concept of cyberspace as distinct from the offline world no longer exists.

When we think of traditional governance, we should think whether this can be transposed to the Internet. By comparing cyberspace to a powerful river, we should move from a concept of governance to a concept of coordination.

The Internet was not built on the Westphalian model; it is transnational. Strengthening governance at national level only will not take us far.

Referring to a new Internet Diplomacy project with the University of South Carolina, Chehadé noted that we also need to see how diplomacy can help us in the coordination of cyberspace. We need a governance model that is already distributed through coordination and diplomacy. Technical organisations such as the IETF, the IEEE, and W3C have contributed in a major way to the Internet we have today.

He finally appealed for Internet integrity, which includes security, emphasising the need for one, unfragmented Internet.

Yurie Ito, on behalf of the Japan Computer Emergency Response Team, recalled the first CERT established 25 years ago. Today, thousands are involved tackling computer security incidents.

She appealed to everyone to work with every part of the ecosystem, including civil society, on Internet health.

See more updates from the Global Conference on Cyber Space.

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