Some thoughts on Cyberspace and Cybersecurity

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Last month, UNDP took part in the Seoul Cyberspace conference and we provided the inputs to BDP (see http://blog.raulza.me/?p=2379) for its engagement on a panel on capacity building. The Seoul gathering produced a framework as well as a series of recommendations and programmes that will support cyberspace, particularly in least develop countries. At the same time the CEB is discussing cybersecurity as part of their upcoming meeting.

I was asked to provide comments on both.

1. The framework has five pillars which include: economic issues, social and cultural values (human rights), cybersecurity, cybercrime and capacity building. The latter for example is tilted towards building cybersecurity and cybercrime capacities. The framework also calls for the UN to address some of these issues at the global level. This is probably the link to the CEB meeting.

2. The key target of the framework are the least developed countries which are indeed the weakest links in the global cybersecurity chain. It is here also where Internet penetration is still in its infancy. Latest estimates indicate that for example in Africa less than 20% of the population have access to the Internet. Not surprisingly, cyberspace and cybersecurity are not top priorities in these nations who face larger development challenges.

4. In this light it is essential for UNDP to be able to integrated cyberspace concerns and issues into development agendas without crowding out other pressing development priorities. It is essential that the international community acknowledges this from the very onset. By coincidence, UNDP LAC has published a report indicating that insecurity, and not cybersecurity, is a top priority for the region. There is a gap here that needs to be closed.

5. On the other hand, least developing countries also have the opportunity to lead-frog this area and adopt the latest technologies and policies to ensure a secure, open and transparent cyberspace. They can certainly benefit from the experiences from other developing countries and thus foster South South cooperation.

6. Notwithstanding, least developing countries will have to address issues related to policy, technology, laws and legislation, governance and internal capacity development to be able to successfully promote cyvberspace within a human development perspective.

7. Issue of privacy and surveillance should also be brought to the table from the very onset to have clear rules and regulations on both. But privacy, a basic human right, should not be the first victim of security of surveillance efforts.

Cheers, Raúl

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