“Of course the internet is global, and so must our approach be. We need to keep fighting to preserve a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace. Agreement that international law applies in cyberspace has been an essential first step. And we need international norms of behaviour in cyberspace, so that freedom is matched by responsibility.”
Rt Hon. George Osborne MP, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), 17 November 2015
The World Wide Web has only been in existence since 1991, but today 3.3 billion people are online; approximately 46% of the global population. Billions more are set to join them over the next decade. Cyberspace is an interdependent network of information technology which includes the internet, telecommunications networks and computer systems. Cyberspace is transforming the global community by driving economic growth, connecting people and providing new ways to communicate and co-operate with one another. However the growth and increasing reliance on cyberspace from banking to education needs to be matched by global efforts to keep it secure.
Cyberspace brings opportunities and threats. While cyberspace facilitates openness it can also make states, companies and individuals more vulnerable to hackers, terrorists, criminal and foreign intelligence services who for various reasons seek to intimidate, steal, spy or destroy data and the infrastructure of cyberspace. For most states, cyber security impacts upon numerous government agencies, ranging from intelligence, military, foreign and domestic departments as well as business, commerce, financial and even health and education. A collective approach must be taken by state actors to mitigate these cyber threats through comprehensive and effective strategies.
Parliamentarians have a responsibility and mandate to ensure national security is in place as elected/nominated representatives. At the core of their work is a responsibility to legislate, ensure policy oversight, budget approval as well as constituency engagement. As such, parliamentarians are uniquely positioned to influence the shape and content of their respective national cybersecurity strategies and other implementation processes.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, CPA UK and the Organization of American States (OAS) in collaboration with other partner organisations are organising three Regional Workshops (phase 1) in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Caribbean between July and October 2016 as part of the Commonwealth Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Project. Each workshop will be by overseen by one partner alongside a host Parliament and will bring together 30-50 parliamentarians from Commonwealth countries and territories across the region for a 3.5 day programme. The workshops will examine cybersecurity within their own regional contexts. The regional workshops are designed to allow participants to share experiences and case studies, benefit from discussions on issues relevant to their country and constituency, and network with parliamentarians and representatives from NGOs and the private sector in neighbouring countries.
OAS will oversee the Caribbean Regional Workshop, which is projected to take place in Washington DC on 17-20 October 2016.
The Commonwealth Secretariat will oversee the African Regional Workshop, which is projected to take place in Autumn 2016.
Outputs from the three workshops will form a key component of an international parliamentarians’ e-handbook on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime (phase 2). The e-Handbook hosted on the CPA UK website will be freely available and will combine examples of best practice and case studies from each region to build a comprehensive and expert resource to aid parliamentarians in their engagement and implementation of cybersecurity. Phase 2 will also include engagement with UK Parliamentarians, organisations, and experts to engage and input into the drafting process through lectures, roundtables and other events. The e-Handbook will be launched as part of CPA UK’s International Parliamentary Conference on National Security (phase 3).
Parliamentarians from across the globe will be invited to participate in the International Parliamentary Conference on National Security, which will take place in March 2017. The conference will build on the outputs from the regional workshops and will also ensure the e-Handbook can take on a broader global national security perspective.