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 30th, 2014 // Keeping Our Eyes on the Fight for Free Speech – by Walid Al-Saqaf

With all the ongoing fascination with the mass surveillance scandals taking place in several countries, I do feel worried that the energy and focus going to those issues is chipping away at our efforts to deal with the more deeply-rooted … Continue reading

March 29th, 2014 // The Case for Data Driven Analysis for Cybercrime Regulation – by Francisco Javier Vera Hott

The case for data driven analysis for cybercrime regulation Given the growing internet penetration rates over the last few years throughout a diverse set of developing countries (also known as the ‘Global South’), different issues are arising in regards to … Continue reading

March 28th, 2014 // From Paranoia to Solidarity: Human Rights Technology in the Age of Hyper-Surveillance – by Enrique Piracés

For decades, security experts, privacy advocates, and whistleblowers have warned us about the growing surveillance capacity of states, the risk of technology in the hands of organized crime, and the increasing role that corporations play in violating citizens’ rights to … Continue reading

March 25th, 2014 // Cyber Witch Hunting and the Real Danger of Cyber Controls – by Aim Sinpeng

Not again. A cyber “witch hunter” sent me a message condemning my Facebook friendship with a well-known political activist who fights to reform the monarchy in a country that carries the harshest punishment for defaming the royalty. The thought of … Continue reading

March 24th, 2014 // A Magna Carta for the Internet? – by Jan Kleijssen

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author only. The Internet is a unique public global good. It enables unprecedented numbers of people to share information and ideas, exercise democratic control over governing institutions and participate in … Continue reading

March 24th, 2014 // Practical Steps Towards Telecommunications Transparency – by Christopher Parsons

Cross posted from Christopher Parson’s blog, “Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets.”  Last month I, along with a series of academic researchers and civil liberties organizations, asked Canada’s leading Telecommunications Services Providers (TSPs) to disclose how, why, and how often they provide telecommunications information … Continue reading

March 14th, 2014 // It’s Time for a Magna Carta for the Web – by Dunja Mijatović

While Al Gore may have invented the Internet, most people today are commemorating the 25th anniversary of the spawning of an idea, posed by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee, which was to give birth to what we call the World Wide … Continue reading

March 11th, 2014 // UNESCO Calls for Editors’ Input in Online Privacy Study – Interview with Guy Berger

Interview by Julie Posetti and published by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Original posting is here. Late last year, UNESCO’s 195 member states adopted a resolution on freedom of information and privacy, formally recognising the value of investigative … Continue reading

March 10th, 2014 // Why We Should Care About Russia’s Stance on the Internet – by Andrei Soldatov

How can we reduce American influence over the Internet? Is it possible to place boundaries on the global network and, if so, how? Today, in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, these are among the most prominent questions in the … Continue reading

March 5th, 2014 // The Internet Governance-espionage Evolution: “Change It!” Versus “Get Real!” – by Chris Bronk

Rare is the day that Edward Snowden’s decision to leave the United States and provide a massive archive of information regarding US signals intelligence to a handful of journalists, chiefly Glenn Greenwald, doesn’t enter my thoughts or conversation. We are … Continue reading