The Glacial Movement of Global Cybersecurity

In the pastoral setting of Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, Quebec, G7 Summit partners met to discuss a broad spectrum of topics, including the shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, a mutual respect for human rights and common commitment to promote a rules-based international order. Amidst the discussions of freedom, democracy and, yes, tariffs, world leaders issued a “Charlevoix G7 Summit Communique,” which advised: “We will work together to enforce existing international rules and develop new rules where needed, to foster a truly level playing field, addressing in particular non-market oriented policies and practices, and inadequate protection of intellectual property rights such as forced technology transfer or cyber enabled theft.” The G7 Communique included many declarations, including an acknowledgement that “. . . we share a fundamental commitment to investing in our citizens and meeting their needs and to responding to global challenges.” Although the forum offered an opportunity for G7 Leaders, Ministers and policy makers to meet for the purpose of building consensus and set trends for challenging global issues, what was discussed concerned cybersecurity.

While the “Chair’s Report of the Meeting of the G7 ISE-SHIMA Cyber Group” noted that threats to cyberspace are on the rise, thereby heightening the importance of developing policies to promote digital security and to ensure trust and stability in cyberspace, that report also noted that the most recent United Nations Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE) was unable to adopt a consensus report in 2017 because some countries’ experts walked back from previous reports’ statements on the applicability of international law to states’ activities in cyber space. As noted in the report, this is an outcome which should concern all those committed to security and stability in cyber space.

Is it fair to say that, notwithstanding the acknowledgement of a growing threat to the global economy, world leaders are no closer to achieve a joint strategy to resist the pestilence of cybercrime which continues to morph and metastasize beyond the reach of those wishing to confront it? Yes, it was a rhetorical question.