Internet Governance Forum 2018

I participated in Approaches to a Wicked Problem: Stakeholders Promote Enhanced Coordination and Collaborative, Risk-Based Frameworks of Regional and National Cybersecurity Initiatives. This debate session took place on Day 3 of the Internet Governance Forum.

The theme of this session was best practices in cybersecurity and featured representatives from civil society organizations (Western and Eastern European, universities), private corporations (Microsoft), and government organizations (Organization of American States, Colombian government).

I decided to participate in this one because in class we’ve discussed stakeholder engagement and collaboration through multistakeholder governance models. This debate highlighted the importance of cross-stakeholder and cross-sectoral cooperation in implementing cybersecurity capacity building efforts. It also touched on how stakeholders can develop global security frameworks and the opportunities and limitations that would come from it. The speakers emphasized the need for public-private partnerships (Microsoft was there after all, as well as government entities), regional approaches, and global alignment.

Several key issues were raised during this session. First, the speakers urged the world to adopt a holistic view on cybersecurity; one that took into account the socio-cultural elements within countries but also within organizations, both public and private. Also, one issue that seemed relevant in a world where more and more people are becoming distrustful of big companies with a lot of money, is how can cybersecurity initiatives build trust and empower stakeholders in the process; the speakers all agreed that it’s crucial to have a conversation around issues in cybersecurity and transparency and that building trust empowers and educates the general public and raises awareness.

An interesting issue that was brought up was that cybersecurity is a policy issue on its own and that it cannot be approached within existing policy approaches. It was also interesting to hear the speakers discuss how there may need to be some experimentations at the national, regional, and global level, until the world sees what works and what does not work. This includes a mix of top-down and bottom-up approaches to cybersecurity, since cybersecurity, according to the speakers, should be a multistakeholder process where the government and community members come together to share best practices.

However, the session did not directly address cybersecurity issues directly related to persons with disabilities. It did discuss challenges actors involved in cybersecurity face when trying to cooperate and collaborate with civil society organizations and other non-state stakeholders, which would include persons with disabilities. I would have liked to see more discussion on the specific stakeholders that public and private entities are trying to engage with and the barriers they’re facing in the process, such as women, youth, persons with disabilities, etc.