The first official plenary session of the fourth annual Arab Internet Governance Forum covered the topic of Cyber security and Trust. Moez Chakchouk, chair of the session and CEO of the Tunisian Post, explained that blind trust comes before achieving cybersecurity, since we do not have all the necessary requirements to protect ourselves online.
The most important ideology, according to Chakchouk, is to preserve the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which preserves the right to the freedom of expression, access, and privacy.
Citizens using cybersecurity are hence building the freer future we are all working toward. Meanwhile, society and corporations must become more involved in cybersecurity debates in order to raise awareness and educate people about the issue.
Toni Issa, moderator and President and Founder of IPTEC Lebanon, said that we face many challenges in terms of free access to internet, because of the different ways content can be used; on one hand lay human rights and freedom of expression and on the other, patent and identity theft, not to mention confidentiality.
There are many solutions that have been put forward to tackle such dilemmas, like for instance passing a common legislation for crime on a global level.
In addition, Faysal Bayouli, Director of International Cooperation, Tunisia, stated that his “interest in this conference [comes] from the reality that we live in, especially at this moment, with what the Arab region is going through and how it is affected” by internet freedom.
Quite a number of factors contribute, either directly or indirectly, to the failure to cyber security and trust. For example, data tampering, surveillance, data theft, falsifying information, and password-related threats are some of the darker facets of internet freedom. The protection of cybersecurity hence relies on confidentiality, integrity, and data availability, in order to achieve a safe cyberground, which all together increases trust globally and facilitates cyberwork.
Another speaker, Wassim El Hajjar, Lebanese Judge, began by stating that the Lebanese government has indeed formed an inclusive law, which has nonetheless not yet been passed by parliament. He added that since some countries require hard evidence for any infringement to be considered a crime, while others require that the crime violate their own laws, regardless of what it might be considered as in other countries, the issue of globalizing internet laws is more complicated than it seems. For instance, a judge in court may not be able to pass a ruling without enough concrete evidence, which can require the infringement of digital privacy all on its own. “As a judge, can I force someone to give me the password or encryption code to a program that they may not want to be accessed?”, asked El Hajjar. On a more practical level, the huge increase in the use of internet in the Arab world is not being met with strategies that set boundaries and ensure protection in order to compensate for the lack of equipment and other shortcomings.
Pierre Bonis, Deputy CEO of AFNIC France, focused on domain names. He started by asking the audience where they usually feel secure, and linked that back to domain names. His example illustrated the fact that trust and security are easier to build when we use localized domain names. When the user feels and knows that the internet and websites used are ruled locally, he knows that the point of entry is located nearby. In contrast, when he finds it difficult to access a certain website, he might use websites that are not at all secure. There is a balance to be found between security and trust on one hand, and the facility to use them on the other hand. For instance, when cybersecurity is developed in France, according to Bonis, they say “please update your computer” because it is the easiest thing a user can do, but an end user is told to “patch everything they can” and not “share [their] personal data: number, address, credit card number etc” unless the address is marked safe in the URL bar.
Mongi Marzouk, VP of Internet Governance and Digital Development at Orange, France, said that the internet is much more prone to problems than other telecommunication methods. The internet was first used in the defense ministry then processed for other users, which shows the extent to which it can be powerful.
Mohamad Malli, Chairman of the IT department at AOU, Lebanon, believes that the responsibility for cyber security is not restricted to any one party It is “a top-down approach”, starting from the government. Secondly, if we consider the example of the UK , which has specialized $2 billion to fight ISIS cyber attacks and the US, which considers that cybercrimes are inducing a bad economy, the economic repercussions of internet freedom begin to make themselves heard as well.
It is then obvious that awareness must be raised to come up with valid strategies for internet legislation, which continuously proves to be increasingly complicates.
Although it may seem black and white, what seems like freedom of speech is also a doorway for theft, impersonations, blackmail, terrorism, and so much more.
Written By : Jessica Klat – Elena Mikail
Edited by : Sarah Yakzan