The Canada Centre for Global Security Studies (Canada Centre) at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto convened its second annual Cyber Dialogue forum on March 18-19, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.  Building upon last year’s successful dialogue – Securing the Cyber Commons? – this year’s Cyber Dialogue addressed the question: What is Stewardship in Cyberspace?

The Cyber Dialogue is a by invitation only event and was organized as a Davos-style facilitated conversation. This year, we commissioned original case studies and essays around the topic of stewardship in cyberspace which were distributed beforehand so that all participants drew from common knowledge and real cases.

What is Stewardship in Cyberspace?

Cyberspace – the global domain of digital electronic telecommunications – is nearing a turning point. Pressure is building towards a “constitutional moment”. Major governments have begun to debate what should be the “rules of the road” for cyberspace, but agreement appears far off. A mixed transnational common pool resource that cuts across political jurisdictions and the public and private sectors, cyberspace has become the operating system for global communications and commerce almost by a series of accidents. Cyberspace functions, and arguably functions very well, in spite of no grand blueprint or central organizing structure. Yet the pressures around the existing system are growing, the demands for some kind of alternative design are mounting, armed forces are debating offensive operations in cyberspace and competing strategies are being developed rapidly that will impact on the future of cyberspace.

Among the themes of this year’s Cyber Dialogue for which case studies were prepared:

  • What Next for “Rules of the Road”?
  • Who Should Police Cyberspace? How should Cyberspace be Policed?
  • What are the Limits of Dissent in Cyberspace?
  • Are We Thinking Strategically Enough About Cyberspace?

The aim of this conference was to help develop a richer understanding of stewardship of cyberspace. We wished to identify where accountability gaps exist, or where policy adjustments might be advocated, on the basis of real case studies and empirical evidence. We also hope that the conference will help contribute to a broader understanding of cyberspace strategy as a whole for stake-holders from the national security, human rights and private sector communities.

Photos from the conference: