“We need all stakeholders in order to make sure that the internet is open, free, safe and dynamic.” These are the words with which the Commissioner for International Cyber Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, Norbert Riedel, greeted the participants of the 2014 Global Cyberspace Cooperation Summit on Wednesday (3 December). In saying this, he made the aim of the conference clear: to enable civil society, politicians and the business community to engage in an in‑depth exchange on global questions related to digitalisation.
At the event, the participants discussed a broad spectrum of topics related to cyber policy – from economic and political development to digital security as well as global administration and regulation of the internet. Riedel stated that “Cyber cooperation is a truly global matter which concerns us all.”
The search for common ground
Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière also emphasised the importance of international exchange in the field of digitalisation. The internet offered huge opportunities for progress and economic development. At the same time however, the vulnerability of these information infrastructures had become clear, the Minister of the Interior continued.
It was important to find common ground between the different actors of the international community. “That is why we are here today,” said de Maizière to the experts present.
From big data to cybercrime
Before the participants continued their discussions in different working groups, Vice President of the EastWest Institute, Bruce W. McConnell, addressed the cyber experts. He said that he hoped the conference would help the internet to better serve society.
During the conference, topics such as big data and privacy, resistance to cybercrime and the possibility of imposing global rules on the internet were discussed in various different working groups.
On Thursday morning (4 December), State Secretary Markus Ederer spoke about international cyber cooperation from a foreign policy perspective. “The importance of the internet is growing faster than the international political community can react,” said Ederer. Trust was an important pre‑requisite for a global network, he continued, saying that this was exactly what was at risk of being lost. Ederer appealed to the participants: “I suggest that you use this meeting on cyber cooperation to seek ways of restoring trust in the internet.”
One way of doing so was through rules: “Countries must ensure that people’s human rights apply both on and offline,” according to the State Secretary. Nevertheless, concrete confidence-building measures were needed in order to effectively expand global rules. He said that the OSCE could serve as a helpful instrument in this regard – the organisation had already taken significant steps towards curbing the danger of cyber conflicts breaking out. Germany wanted to work to further advance the efforts in this field, he added.
On Friday (5 December), the last day of the 2014 summit, young cyber experts and other participants discussed their views on international cooperation in the digital age. In addition to this, the different working groups presented their results and offered an outlook on the future of global cyber cooperation.