Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Deibert on cybersecurity and democratic values

Must-read article from Citizen Lab's Ron Deibert on the dangers posed by putting cyberfoxes in charge of hen house security ("The Cyber Security Syndrome,", 25 November 2014):
What do we mean when we say “cyber security?” What is it, exactly, that we are securing? And for whom? Are we securing the Internet as a whole — that vast global information infrastructure that envelops the planet, from the code to satellites, the handheld devices, and everything in between?

Or, instead, do we mean ‘we protect our nation’s cyberspace first and others second, if at all’? Do we regard other nations’ networks as fair game to be “exploited” in order to gain competitive advantage?

The tension between these points of view is not unique to cyber security, but reflects a deeper tension at the heart of global politics today: between a slowly emerging sense of global responsibility and citizenship on the one hand, and the old Westphalian nation-state system on the other.

While the rift runs deep at the extremes, these competing worldviews can be reconciled. Indeed, for human rights to achieve their promise they must be entrenched across the globe by sovereign democratic states. Governments that are premised on human rights and the rule of law need agencies to domestically enforce the law while guarding their citizens from extremism or international violence.

But also fundamental to a liberal democratic society is that these agencies be highly accountable, transparent to democratically elected representatives, and unleashed to act only in tightly circumscribed ways; loosen those checks and balances, and you begin to unravel what it means to be a liberal democracy in the first place.
Worth reading the whole piece.


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