CYBER DIALOGUE 2014   |   MARCH 30 - 31, 2014

The Cyber Dialogue conference, presented by the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, convened an influential mix of global leaders from government, civil society, academia and private enterprise to participate in a series of facilitated public plenary conversations and working groups around cyberspace security and governance.

After Snowden, Whither Internet Freedom?

A recent stream of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has shed light on an otherwise highly secretive world of cyber surveillance. Among the revelations — which include details on mass domestic intercepts and covert efforts to shape and weaken global encryption standards — perhaps the most important for the future of global cyberspace are those concerning the way the U.S. government compelled the secret cooperation of American telecommunications, Internet, and social media companies with signals intelligence programs.

For American citizens, the NSA story has touched off soul-searching discussions about the legality of mass surveillance programs, whether they violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and whether proper oversight and accountability exist to protect American citizens' rights. But for the rest of the world, they lay bare an enormous “homefield advantage” enjoyed by the United States — a function of the fact that AT&T, Verizon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, and many other brand name giants are headquartered in the United States.

Prior to the Snowden revelations, global governance of cyberspace was already at a breaking point. The vast majority of Internet users — now and into the future — are coming from the world’s global South, from regions like Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Of the six billion mobile phones on the planet, four billion of them are already located in the developing world. Notably, many of the fastest rates of connectivity to cyberspace are among the world’s most fragile states and/or autocratic regimes, or in countries where religion plays a major role in public life. Meanwhile, countries like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India, and others have been pushing for greater sovereign controls in cyberspace. While a US-led alliance of countries, known as the Freedom Online Coalition, was able to resist these pressures at the Dubai ITU summit and other forums like it, the Snowden revelations will certainly call into question the sincerity of this coalition. Already some world leaders, such as Brazil’s President Rousseff, have argued for a reordering of governance of global cyberspace away from U.S. controls.

For the fourth annual Cyber Dialogue, we have invited a selected group of participants to address the question, “After Snowden, Whither Internet Freedom?” What are the likely reactions to the Snowden revelations going to be among countries of the global South? How will the Freedom Online Coalition respond? What is the future of the “multi-stakeholder” model of Internet governance? Does the “Internet Freedom” agenda still carry any legitimacy? What do we know about “other NSA’s” out there? What are the likely implications for rights, security, and openness in cyberspace of post-Snowden nationalization efforts, like those of Brazil’s?

As in previous Cyber Dialogues, participants were drawn from a cross-section of government (including law enforcement, defence, and intelligence), the private sector, and civil society. In order to canvass worldwide reaction to the Snowden revelations, this year’s Cyber Dialogue will include an emphasis on thought leaders from the global South, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

BLOG - News from The Dialogue

March 15th, 2013 // Realism Endures: Why States Seek Digital Arms and Will Continue to Do So – by John B. Sheldon

Why is there an emerging market in so-called ‘digital arms’? More particularly, where is the demand for digital arms coming from? Just as James Lewis, writing elsewhere in this forum, asks what it is that regulation of the digital arms … Continue reading

March 14th, 2013 // Cyber Stewards Join the Dialogue

At the Citizen Lab and Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, we believe that it is essential that the process of cyber securitization taking place in the South includes local voices, who can articulate a vision of cyber security in … Continue reading

March 13th, 2013 // You Only Click Twice: FinFisher’s Global Proliferation – by Morgan Marquis-Boire, Bill Marczak, Claudio Guarnieri, and John Scott-Railton

This research brief, authored by Morgan Marquis-Boire, Security Researcher with the Citizen Lab, Bill Marczak, Claudio Guarnieri, and John Scott-Railton, Research Fellow with the Citizen Lab, describes the results of a comprehensive global Internet scan for the command and control … Continue reading

March 13th, 2013 // Governance for a Domain Constructed – by Chris Bronk

“Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns or detective stories.” Arthur C. Clarke As cyber issues become a more significant element of geopolitics, they attract more attention from policymakers. Today, those in positions of economic and political leadership are concerned … Continue reading

March 13th, 2013 // Facing the Costs of an Open Internet – by Karl Kathuria

The future of openness on the Internet is currently the subject of wide debate. Having started with engineers defining standards through informal mechanisms, it has grown through a multi-stakeholder approach, taking in the private sector, public sector, informal and formal … Continue reading

March 13th, 2013 // Democratic State Surveillance, Transparency and Trust – by Andrew Clement

Those of us who believe that democratic governments have a central role to play in multi-stakeholder cyberspace governance have received in the past few weeks a bracing reminder of both the hazards of this ideal in practice and the importance … Continue reading

March 9th, 2013 // Against Hypocrisy: Updating Export Controls for the Digital Age – by Danielle Kehl and Tim Maurer

The revolutions in the Arab world showcased the catalytic role that information technology can play in political movements. As each regime toppled, leaders in other countries increasingly focused on how to prevent similar uprisings within their borders, ramping up the … Continue reading

March 5th, 2013 // Watching the Watchers: A Role for the ITU in the Internet Age – by Jonathon W. Penney

The Internet appears headed on a collision course with international regulatory institutions like the International Telecommunications Union, but might an impact be avoided? Put another way, what role might such international institutions play that promotes a free and open Internet? … Continue reading

March 4th, 2013 // WCIT-12: The Shadow at Evening Rising – by Alexander Klimburg

If it can be said that most international conferences occur in their own little world, the World Conference of International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) happened in another dimension. For outside observers the WCIT-12 goings-on (as well as out-comings) sometimes seemed to border … Continue reading

March 1st, 2013 // Hacking Back, Signaling, and State-Society Relations – by Adam Segal

Over the last year, in the wake of continuous revelations of cyber attacks on companies, the media, think tanks, and civil society groups, there has been an increasingly, vocal debate over whether private actors should be allowed to engage in … Continue reading