Cyber policy: multilateral solutions for the future

Digital revolution and foreign policy

Digital revolution and foreign policy, © chromorange/picture alliance

25.09.2019 - Article

In the sphere of cyber policy it is clear that in future, too, it will only be possible to devise stable and sustainable rules by joining forces. Cyberspace is not a space outside the law; its openness and its capacity to connect people need to be protected.

The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly is currently taking place in New York. Numerous issues are on the agenda when the countries of the world convene. All these issues have one thing in common: they are challenges that can only be resolved through cooperation.

International law also has to apply on the internet

One of these issues is international cyber policy. Here, too, it is clear that global issues can only be jointly regulated. Global connectivity and openness are just two of the positive terms associated with the internet, but at the same time cyber attacks and the spread of false information show how values and legal systems can clash, resulting in new insecurities. For Germany it is therefore clear that cyberspace is not a space outside the law. Valid international law also has to apply on the internet.

Cyber security is not something that can be achieved at national level

Any attempt by a country to regulate the internet on its own on a national basis and any desire to implement national norms to protect it is doomed to failure or would destroy the attraction of the internet: its openness and capacity to connect people in a way that transcends geographical boundaries. Cyber security cannot be achieved at national level but only through close cooperation between countries and international organisations, civil societies, business and academia.

Germany is working for the introduction of multilateral regulations

#MultilateralismMatters© AA

From confidence-building measures within the context of the OSCE, through the development of an EU Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox, to a common cyber sanctions regime, Germany is therefore working within the United Nations and other international forums to ensure that norms governing responsible conduct by states in the digital sphere can be defined and implemented. In the United Nations, Germany is one of the members of a newly established group of government experts on cyber issues. Germany also supports the fact that numerous states and other players have joined the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace of 12 November 2018.

In November 2018, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas opened the annual conference of the Freedom Online Coalition, a group of 30 countries working for the protection of civil liberties on the internet. He emphasised the need to “preserve the internet as a realm of freedom”. In November 2019, Germany will host the Internet Governance Forum for the first time, an open discussion platform within the United Nations for key legal, political, social and technological issues pertaining to the internet.


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