Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

Opinion

Cyber space needs stronger rule of law

  • 'It would be wise to designate specific elements of the cyber domain to be off limits for cyber-attacks' (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

On 16 and 17 April, the global cyber community will gather in The Hague for the Global Conference on Cyberspace.

The Internet brings people together, generates ideas and helps shape our future. We are convinced that we should protect the Internet and its innovative power, but should also deal with the challenges that cyber confronts us with.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Cyberspace has become the most important strategic asset of modern societies

We can only reap the full benefits of the Internet if we are able to make it a safe place to do business and to protect human rights, including privacy and freedom of expression online, as they are protected off line.

The world community has a lot to gain from a free, open and secure Internet.

We are calling on governments, the business community, civil society, the academic and technical communities, who are present in The Hague, to work together to promote this vision and find a good balance among rights that have all to be protected.

New realities

The development of the Internet has created new realities for all of us.

Governments have come to the table rather late in recognizing the importance of the Internet to their traditional roles and responsibilities, but now see the challenges before them more clearly. It is only by working closely with all Internet stakeholders that we can effectively safeguard the cyberspace for future generations.

The cyber hijacking of TV5 Monde, the attack last year against Sony Pictures, and constant cyber-attacks on financial services worldwide show that cyber operations have become a tool for power manipulation and political coercion for states and non-state actors alike.

These incidents illustrate that we need to clarify how existing international law and the norms of responsible behaviour contribute to trust and confidence in cyberspace.

Is cyberspace then a lawless area? Not quite.

Agreement was reached by a global group of cyber experts under the UN auspices that international law, and notably the UN Charter, applies to cyberspace.

The Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe has adopted a first set of confidence building measures in cyber security. Global efforts continue to further develop cyber confidence building activities.

The Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) this week offers a broad multi-stakeholder platform to discuss new ideas in this field. We must strive to ensure that our fundamental values that our open societies rest upon are also upheld in the digital sphere.

Cyber security

In order to address cyber challenges, states should take action against threats emanating from territory under their control. It would be wise to designate specific elements of the cyber domain to be off limits for cyber-attacks, in the same way that hospitals cannot be attacked in times of war.

Examples could be critical infrastructure providing essential civilian services, civilian incident response structures and certain critical components of the global Internet.

States should also refrain from undermining the fundamental security of the vital cyber infrastructures.

Governments can’t act alone. They will have to rely on other partners. We should therefore find ways to broaden the discussion on international rules and norms in cyber space to capture a broader range of interests, including the public and private sector.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance, a broadly composed group that studies the similarly complex issue of Internet Governance, could offer a good model.

If we acknowledge the fact that cyberspace has become the most important strategic asset of modern societies, then we must look beyond narrow short term interests in order to create more lasting stability.

We need to re-invent ourselves and bring all who are affected to the table.

Bert Koenders is the Dutch foreign minister. Federica Mogherini is the head of the EU foreign service

EU cyber directive 'nearly finished'

The EU executive will release a draft directive on cyber security in 2013, in the latest indication that the bloc is moving towards a harmonised online rulebook.

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights