We’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.
Christopher Painter is Coordinator for Cyber Issues for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Troels Oerting is Deputy Head of the Operations Department of Europol.