The contest of rules: US, China, Russia rival in setting the norms of behavior in cyberspace

//Alexandra Kulikova, program coordinator at the PIR Center in Moscow, discusses implications of and processes for creating soft law on ICT governance. 

The shift of cyberspace governance discussions towards a normative framework demonstrates states’ efforts to formulate ‘rules of the game.’ Recent multinational and bilateral agreements on cyberspace governance fall under the domain of non-binding soft law, in which norms agreed upon are not set in stone. As fundamental differences exist amongst individual state’s visions of cyber governance (for example views on state sovereignty in cyberspace), and with the uncertainties a rapidly developing cyberspace brings, hard laws often imply commitments that are difficult to honor. Non-binding agreements and norms leave room to maneuver as seen in the recent UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security report and talks between the US and China.

While the United Nation’s bureaucracy is typically perceived as ill paced for dynamic ICT governance, in June 2015 a major breakthrough occurred. Representatives from twenty countries formed the fourth Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. The GGE agreed on a range of non-binding norms for state behavior as well as confidence and capacity building measures in cyberspace – something many were skeptical about. The agreements, reflected in the report published in August, outline some important commitments which states have refused to recognize since the late 1990s when the Russian Federation started promoting the norm building process through the creation of the UN GGE. These include, inter alia, the commitment to not attack each other’s critical infrastructure and cyber emergency response systems (CERTs and CSIRTs); to not knowingly allow illegal third party cyber activity from within their territory; to carry out due investigation on malicious activity before counteractions are taken; to assist in investigations of cyberattacks and cybercrime launched from the country’s territory; and to commit to peaceful use of ICTs as a cornerstone of peace and security in cyberspace and beyond. Building on the success of the previous UN GGE in 2013, which acknowledged the applicability of international law to cyberspace and encouraged future elaboration of norms and confidence building measures (CBMs), the current GGE managed to build upon and agree on some minimum conditions for international cyber stability.

Click here to read more.

The State of Cybercrime Governance in Ethiopia

Posted in , ,

//Haleform Hailu of INSA Ethiopia discusses Ethiopia’s approach to cybercrime. Click here to read the full report.

The advent of ICTs in general and the internet in particular is transforming the global economy’s focus from one centered on industry to one based upon knowledge and information. These transformations have dramatically changed the way people live and do business, and have paved the way for the emergence of the information society.

While these technological advancements have brought about numerous opportunities, they have also opened the door for unprecedented criminal activities. Cybercrime is an increasingly important concern for policy makers, businesses, and citizens alike. Due to ICT growth, citizens, business, and governments are exposed to new and sophisticated risks. No country is safe from the threat of cybercrime; therefore, combating cybercrime is a key strategic objective for governments.

Ethiopia  has  embraced  ICTs  as  a  key  enabler of…

Click here to read more.

African Media Law and Digital Native Roundup 2.0

Welcome to the second African Internet Policy & Media Law Roundup compiled by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito.  This edition of the roundup explores notable events affecting, or affected by, African internet policies and media laws from May through July 2014. Part one of this series on analysis of notable events affecting, or affected by, African internet policies and media laws is available here.

Across Africa

Strategic plans towards harmonization of ICT policies and regulations in Africa: During the fifth meeting of the heads of the ICT Units at the African Union Commission (AUC), the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and Associations of Regulators on Harmonization and Coordination of Regional and Continental ICT Programs, Projects and Activities all adopted a strategic plan, the “Continental ICT Strategy for Africa (CISA), for development up to 2024.” The plan emphasized the following areas: post and telecom infrastructure, capacity development, e-applications and services, enabling environment and governance, mobilization of resources and partnerships, industrialization, and research and development.

The month of May also saw the African Telecommunications Union present a draft strategic plan for 2014-2018 to its members. This plan emphasized the promotion of an optical fiber-based system and other infrastructure developments, innovation, and locally-created apps aimed at enhancing economic productivity in agriculture, livestock, and other fields.

 

Nearly 1/3 of African countries in the bottom 10% of the world rankings in a bi-annual UN E-Government Survey: The UN E-Government Survey assesses levels of digital interactions between the government and citizens, government agencies, government employees, and the private sector. This is important, as E-Government lowers the cost of the provision of services in a transparent government environment. The Surveyfound that Kenya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Ghana are the only African countries with an open government data portal, a database of government data such as…

Click here to read more.