What Rules for Cyberspace?

News | October 30, 2012

Addressing more than 300 participants from 22 countries at the opening session of the EastWest Institute’s 3rd Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in New Delhi, Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, called for “a global agreement” on how to protect the key infrastructure of the digital world.

Pointing out that for the first time in human history everyone is operating from the same platform, Sibal declared: “It is no longer a question of a nation protecting its own security; it’s a question of the global community protecting itself.” He called for a new understanding about what constitutes cyber crime and how to combat it, including the idea of empowering “cyber justices” in the future who would adjudicate such cases. “India pledges to work with the global community,” he added.
Although there were clear differences among the speakers about the desirability and possible scope of new international agreements, Ross Perot, Jr., the Chairman of the EastWest Institute, welcomed India’s participation in discussions about the future of cyberspace. “We are all in the room today because we recognize that India is an essential partner on cybersecurity,” he said.
The two-day cybersecurity summit is organized in partnership with the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, praised the EastWest Institute for its forward-looking agenda. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us to have such a galaxy of experts together in one room,” he said. “And we have the EastWest Institute to thank.”
In the other opening day panels, top cyber officials and experts from both the private and public sectors agreed that the rapid pace of technological change has triggered a corresponding leap in vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber criminals. It has also raised fears about government intrusion that could threaten privacy and individual freedoms. Michael Chertoff, Chairman of the Chertoff Group and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, pointed out how complicated many of these issues have become. “You cannot have privacy without security,” he said, while acknowledging the legitimate fears that some governments will attempt to control Internet content.
John Suffolk, the Global Cyber Security Officer of Huawei, argued that the benefits of new cyber technologies deserve more emphasis. “The more you frighten people, the less people will use technology that drives the economy forward,” he said. Christopher Painter, the Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the U.S. State Department, added: “Security is not the end goal; security is the foundation.”
In his opening remarks, EastWest Institute President John Mroz declared: “We are here for a purpose—to build trust and find solutions together.” He pointed out that the two previous annual summits in Dallas and London have led to the implementation of 52 per cent of the 27 recommendations that came out of those consultations. “This is a process, not just a conference,” he added.
As the participants began work in their breakthrough groups on specific issues such as protecting undersea cable infrastructure, cloud computing, priority international communications and payload security, EWI Vice-Chairman Armen Sarkissian, former Prime Minister of Armenia, declared: “In a short period of time, this summit process has proven itself effective.”
The recommendations of the New Delhi summit will be pursued over the course of the next year, forming the basis for discussions at the 4th Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit that will be held in Silicon Valley in 2013.
To follow the summit latest developments, visit www.cybersummit2012.com.
We are tweeting about the summit under #cybersummit.