cyberWe’ve already looked at several issues related to cyberspace on Debating Europe, including whether or not we need governments to protect us online (or whether they do more harm than good), whether the EU should ratify ACTA and whether digital piracy is killing creativity. On May 31st, Debating Europe will attend Microsoft’s EU Cybersecurity and Digital Crimes Forum, which includes speakers such as Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, and Ambassador Gábor Iklódy, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. We’d like to take some of your questions and comments to this event, so we thought we’d open a debate on the topic.

Recently, Debating Europe attended a Security & Defence Agenda event on cyber security. There, we had the opportunity to speak to Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We asked him to summarise the current state of play in cyber security and, in particular, to comment on a recent report (PDF) by SDA and McAfee which concludes that law enforcement is currently lagging behind the cyber criminals.

Whenever we’ve posted something on Debating Europe asking you how involved governments should be in regulating the internet or protecting users online (see here, here and here), the response from our readers has largely been one of suspicion. Plamen, for example, left a comment arguing that:

Any attempts at regulating the internet, no matter how well intentioned, will end up creating tools for oppression.

Whilst Marko added:

This is just more government control, and less [control by people] of their lives!

Many of you are concerned about the balance between online security and the possibility of infringing personal privacy or abusing systems designed to catch criminals. We put this sentiment to Christopher Painter, and asked him if it’s possible to have “too much” cyber security. Is it possible we risk a sort of “over-securitisation” of cyberspace that could lead to conflicts between issues of privacy and data protection?

We also spoke to Troels Oerting, Deputy Head of the Operations Department of Europol. We asked him whether, as the internet become increasingly ubiquitious through the introduction of innovations such as mobile computing, the definition of cyber-crime was growing blurrier.

Finally, we asked him about some of the current difficulties in prosecuting cyber-crime cases. With cyber-crime being “borderless” in the sense that often multiple territories and jurisdictions can be involved during an attack, is law enforcement keeping up with the criminals?

What do YOU think? Are we at risk of the “over-securitisation” of cyberspace? Or are cyber criminals a growing threat that need to be tackled? Are you worried about your security online, or is it something you don’t think about? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts in the field of cyber security for them to respond.


9 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Albert Saxén

    not worried. But just today i got weird emails from..sources i dnt even know how they got it (yes, if you got mine ;) it’s a closely kept secret). Security is a gd thing ..but it is diff from CISPA, et al.

  2. Ana-Maria Anghelescu

    As far as I am concerned, I know that internet has at least as many risks as advantages. Of course, the fact that we can browse information all over the world and to meet other people and situations is the best part of the internet. But, how many youngsters are concerned about the legal issues or know much about the many cases of stolen identities.

    These mentioned above are examples of cyber crimes, but as Troels Oerting said at this moment, it’s very difficult to trace the criminals. We should have a division in every government that deals with legal issues through internet. And even if I was not pro-ACTA, I am convinced that there should exist a legal basis for prosecuting cyber crimes. The laws shouldn’t affect the liberty we gained through internet, but they should enforce a kind of respect and awareness.

    In conclusion, I think that every one of us should be concerned about their security in the online life, because there’s also their life and no one else could protect them from being hacked, robbed or anything else of this sort.

    Ana-Maria Anghelescu
    Think Young Online Writing Team

  3. Vicente Silva Tavares

    I am sick of seing people using my own emails to do spam, even sending to myself. How it is possible on these times, the servers do not have a solution to stop this? Security should increase, yes!

  4. Nikolai Holmov

    Cyber-security? When governments, governmental agencies and other pillars of the establishment are continually getting hacked, failing to encrypt their data and generally displaying the fact they know far less about the cyberworld and Internet than most 12 year old kids, how can they even begin to impose “solutions” on the populous when they haven’t even found “solutions” for themselves?

    It is a fairly hollow argument to state that the Internet makes it very difficult to catch the criminals responsible in high-tech crimes when the average detection rates for crime in any nation is not exactly encouraging.

    Before brazenly entering the cyberworld with new laws and draconian measures, is there not already enough laws to deal with cybercrime?

    How will new laws increase the detection rate of cybercrime in comparison to say, new laws increasing the detection rates of burglary?

    New laws do not necessarily have any effect on crime or its detection. Therefore, if new laws are to be introduced there has to be a tangible and measurable benefit to society by way of detection and punishment. If there is none, then there is no point in having any new laws.

  5. Ozcan

    there is no security everything is under constant treath! Be aware trust no one!

  6. catherine benning

    Cyber security is a matter for Europe to cope with by first of all making sure that anything which occurs on or within that cyber space, practiced by Europeans within Europe, does not get passed over American soil or States.

    To extradite a person from Europe to the US in order to stand trial for a crime that is not against our laws, whilst using his/her computer on our soil is utterly wrong and must be against his/her human rights. For if nothing more, to send them to Texas to be caught up in a bent legal system and then thrown into a prison of horrendous abuse, for an obscene length of time, denies the right to those human beings to a family life, as well as the right to a fair trial, with principled advocacy.

    What Europe must seriously consider is, why do you allow this and why are you playing this kind of stooge to US propaganda? Are you saying Europe is not fit enough to try its own people?

  7. Rui Duarte

    «Is it possible to have too much cyber security?».. not really; but that’s not the point. What hinders personal freedom is that it is indeed possible to have too much ciber-vigilance. Now personal freedom may or may not be desirable. For those who hold that personal is more important than ciber-security, excessive ciber-vigilance IS A PROBLEM.

    I, as much as «I» is of any importance, do not want to live in a police-state where ciber-vigilance hinders individual liberty; not even in the guise of ciber-«security».

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