This week, on 26 April, as part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2022, the International Conference on Cyberlaw, Cybercrime & Cybersecurity held a Round Table featuring a “galaxy of speakers”. Panellists including Globethics.net President and Founder Dr Christoph Stückelberger addressed current developments and issues arising from Cyberspace and digital technologies.
The polemic of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, the need for international cooperation on cyberlaw, and a reminder of the impact cybercrime can have on mental health with a call for cyberpsychology were among the important and pertinent topics brought to the table.
The event was moderated by Globethics.net board member, Supreme Court of India Advocate and internationally renowned Cyberlaw expert Dr Pavan Duggal, who kicked off the session by introducing the broad spectrum of current trends revolving around cyberlaw, cybercrime and cybersecurity.
Cyberspace - and everything it entails - is of central importance to our society. It infiltrates every part of our lives - increasingly so, with the development of the Metaverse. Blockchain and cyber currency, facial recognition, the Internet of things, AI, Web3… these technologies - which can be used positively and negatively - are growing and maturing while relevant legislation is only just now emerging. And all the while, they collect data on everything we do.
Legislation and governance on cyber issues are in the early stages of development in individual countries. The USA has a new cyber incidence reporting system, the UN Ad-Hoc Committee is working on a new convention to regulate the use of ICTs for criminal purposes; a draft EU law on AI is in process and Ukraine recently legalised crypto assets and cryptocurrency.
However, in this data economy, there are increasing numbers of cyber-attacks globally: from data leaks to ransomware attacks on everything from social media to power systems to airlines. In fact, Dr Duggal noted, every 11 seconds a company falls victim to a ransomware attack. We’re in the golden age of cybercrimes, he continued, and the impact is tangible. 6 trillion US Dollars have been lost to cybercrime already, and another 8 trillion dollars are expected to be lost due to these attacks.
With the current lack of international legislation, it is extremely hard to prosecute cyber-criminals. While electronic evidence has become a crucial tool for governments, law enforcement and the judiciary in investigating cybercrime, the growth of the Darknet makes it even easier to access identity-hiding technology.
Following this insightful overview of the state of cyberlaw, cybercrime and cybersecurity in 2022, Dr Pavan Duggal invited the panellists to share their expert perspectives and analysis of how these ever-evolving cyber-trends are impacting the world.
Expanding on Dr Pavan’s introduction, legal expert Dr Linda Spedding dove further into the impact of cybercrime. The world is changing fast, she began, and as quickly as international law and cyber security develop, so do the actions of cybercriminals.
The five key types of cybercrimes - ransomware attacks, phishing, data leakage, hacking, and insider threats - affect every area of a company and its stakeholders through reputation risk. SMEs are particularly vulnerable to these attacks, having few resources with which to protect themselves. We are, as a society, heavily reliant on computers and the Internet in our personal and work lives. Therefore, Dr Spedding finished, we need to find a way to protect ourselves, and especially those most vulnerable, in the face of these growing threats.
Alfredo Ronchi, Secretary-General of the EC MEDICI Framework, echoed this call. With everything we own connected and able to collect our data, there is an urgent need for effective, international cyberlaw and regulations to ensure we retain the control of cyber technology over our lives and protect human rights.
Prof. Sarah Jane Fox from the School of Law, Policing and Forensic at the Institute of Policing at Staffordshire University, UK, also agreed. We are at a critical point for the development of cybercrime, and yet, there is still a lack of capacity to put international cyberlaw and cybersecurity mechanisms in place to protect us all. Science has not yet mastered prophecy, she continued, quoting Neil Amstrong. We need to start working together to take measures against those technologies that have the potential to compromise our security and to ensure we protect our world while maximising the benefits from technology.
The ethical dimensions of cyberspace picked up on throughout the session were explored further by Prof. Dr. Christoph Stückelberger, co-author of Cyber Ethics 4.0: Serving Humanity with Values, who spoke on “cyber power” in the context of the very current issue of Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition. According to Musk, he is buying the social media platform, which has some 217 million active users, “to defend democracy”.
However, as Prof. Dr. Stückelberger pointed out, can it really be seen as democracy for one person - who has some 265 billion USD in assets - to own a platform that most governments use as a diplomacy channel? Especially, he added, when that person also owns some 2000 satellites providing Internet access coverage to 32 countries, meaning that Musk controls cyberspace in two key areas. Drawing parallels between Musk and global leaders considered autocrats, such as Putin, he questioned whether Musk would more appropriately be called a private sector autocrat.
How do we deal with a power issue in cyberspace? Echoing his fellow panellists, Prof. Dr. Stückelberger highlighted once more the need for shared responsibility and control, for international action to ensure ethical use of power.
Bringing a new dimension to the conversation, student Drishyaa Duggal talked about the psychological impact of cybercrime, the trauma and negative thoughts that can arise when one falls victim to these cyber attacks. The conversation on mental health has rightfully earnt growing importance over the past few years, especially considering the effects of the pandemic on so many people, and Duggal sees cyberpsychology as becoming an integral part of that conversation.
That education on cybercrime, cyberlaw and cybersecurity is key was a core message throughout the round table event. Both Prof NK Goyal of the CMAI Association of India and Dr Pavan Duggal highlighted the importance of capacity building in the field and noted the success of the Cyber Law University in its educational work. Panellists and audience members alike were encouraged to attend the upcoming International Conference on Cyberlaw and Cybercrime taking place later this year.
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