Time to Put High-Stakes Internet Security Issue on G20 Agenda, CIGI Commentary Says

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The Internet’s economic importance and the massive financial risk posed by cybersecurity threats warrant making the issue a G20 agenda item, according to new CIGI commentary.

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The G20 should tackle the vastly important issue of Internet security and “articulate a vision for shaping the Internet economy for the next five to 10 years,” a new commentary issued by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) recommends.

In "Change the Conversation, Change the Venue and Change Our Future," Melissa E. Hathaway argues that the Internet’s economic importance and the massive financial risk posed by cybersecurity threats warrant making the issue a G20 agenda item. The G20 forum — with its ability to give equal voice among nations that make up 90 percent of global GDP, 80 percent of international trade and 64 percent of the world’s population — could “propagate a simple narrative that communicates why a sustainable cyberspace is linked to GDP growth for every nation.”

Hathaway says that Russia, which holds the G20 presidency in 2013, “could leave its mark on the world by leading this conversation in the G20 now.” She outlines practical steps that could be taken to add Internet governance and cybersecurity to multiple tracks of the current G20 program:

  •     Building infrastructure and providing inclusive access to basic amenities (such as high-speed broadband communications) to spur economic growth. Agenda item: Development for All.
  •     Support the Financial Stability Board with an information sharing forum/methodology to enable banks to better protect themselves from malicious cyber activities. Agenda item: Strengthening Financial Regulation. Alternatively, this same item could be addressed in the Agenda item: Fighting Corruption. Cybersecurity, fraud and e-crime could fit into the sub-tracks of deepening the engagement of the business community or eradicating corruption in major international events.
  •     Curbing protectionism and strengthening the development of multilateral trade (by limiting e-crime, especially across borders). Agenda item: Enhancing Multilateral Trade.

Hathaway points out that, although Internet security is already being addressed at the international level — through the European Union, NATO and the United Nations — there is an “operational collision of competing interests” and a lack of clarity within these fora. She argues that “it is time to change the conversation and establish executive ownership among those who have the most to lose.”

She points out that an estimated 2.5 million jobs have been lost in G20 economies through counterfeiting and piracy and that $125 billion is lost annually by governments and consumers, all through cyber activities. “The Internet is the fuel of the global economy and the backbone of the international financial system,” says Hathaway. “No country can afford to put their economy at risk.”

To read "Change the Conversation, Change the Venue and Change Our Future," click here.

About the Author:

Melissa E. Hathaway is president of Hathaway Global Strategies LLC and a senior advisor at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. She served in two US presidential administrations, where she spearheaded the Cyberspace Policy Review for President Barack Obama and led the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative for President George W. Bush. Ms. Hathaway is a frequent keynote speaker on cybersecurity matters, and regularly publishes papers and commentary in this field.

Media Contact:
Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: kdias(at)cigionline(dot)org

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit http://www.cigionline.org.

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