IGF 2017 – Global commission on the stability of cyberspace

17 Dec 2017 16:30h - 18:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 12th Internet Governance Forum]

This session, introduced by Ms Marina Kaljurand, Chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) and former foreign minister of Estonia, featured discussions on the recent work of the GCSC. The Global Commission brings together stakeholders from different communities to develop proposals for norms and policies to enhance the international security and stability of cyberspace.

The first part of the session, moderated by Mr Olaf Kolkman, Chief Internet Technology Officer, Internet Society (ISOC),  was dedicated to the presentation of GCSC’s Call to Protect the Public Core of the Internet‘. The GCSC Commissioners issued a ‘Call to Protect the Public Core of the Internet’ at the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) 2017 in November 2017 in Delhi, urging state and non-state actors to avoid activity that would intentionally and substantially damage the general availability or integrity of the public core of the Internet.

Mr Vinton Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, insisted on the need to protect the core of the Internet, encompassing the properties of the Internet. What threatens the common core of the Internet is not limited to states’ behaviour, but can also relate to individuals’ choices or even errors in the configurations of the systems. The adoption of this succinct call by the GCSC is a very positive step in identifying what are the risks today and what should be done.

Ms Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament, argued that individuals are under increasing pressure on the Internet, partly due to the actions of private companies or authoritarian governments. The call of the GCSC reflects a will to introduce a norm, softer than treaties, that is achievable and can find a large consensus. 

Mr Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, Steering Committee Member, Organisation of The Islamic Cooperation – Computer Emergency Response Teams (OICCERT), developed on the need to introduce such norms, even though they might not be systematically respected. Ajijola also insisted on the need to include African stakeholders in these discussions, in particular given their significant importance in terms of Internet users and stake in the infrastructure.

Mr Bill Woodcock, Executive Director, Packet Clearing House, added that the term ‘public core’ should not be interpreted as an invitation addressed only to governments to engage in the discussions, especially since the immorality of cyberattacks does not reach a global consensus among all stakeholders.

The second part of the session, moderated by Kaljurand, addressed the future of norms in guiding responsible state and non-state behavior in cyberspace. Kaljurand indicated that there is already a myriad of diplomatic initiatives and commissions tackling cybersecurity issues, but highlighted the potential added value of GCSC.

On this topic, Mr Christopher Painter, former Coordinator for Cyber Issues, US State Department, insisted on the need to reach all stakeholders involved, particularly in order to give more traction to the norm that is proposed by the GCSC.

Ms Anriette Esterhuysen, Director of Global Policy and Strategy, Association For Progressive Communications (APC), argued that there is an increasing need to find consensus  among all stakeholders on fundamental premises regarding the Internet. The call of the GCSC has the potential to shape and direct Internet governance discussions as a whole, but needs to address the issue of inclusion which is usually problematic in such fora.

Finally, Ms Katherine Getao, ICT Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, Kenya, concluded by insisting on the importance of thinking about what lies behind the common resources that we are sharing. Norms are essential in making us protected, and the objective of the GCSC’s call is to provide a clear and compelling proposal for protecting these common resources.

By Clément Perarnaud