NSA director in Tallinn: Internet freedom has to be maintained (4)

5/27/2015 5:32 PM
Category: International

States, private institutions and individuals have to work together to ensure a free Internet, said Admiral Michael S. Rogers, Commander of the US Cyber Command and Director of the American National Security Agency (NSA), addressing the CyCon 2015, a conference on cyber conflict in Tallinn, on Wednesday.

Admiral Rogers emphasized the need to create a uniform rulebook for the internet, by comparing cyberspace to the high seas at the conference which is organized by the Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence. “The seas around the world are, much like the cyber domain, not governed by one single nation. We have created maritime norms and have to do the same in the cyber space to ensure a flow of information and ideas,” Rogers said.

But Rogers clearly stressed the need to maintain the free flow of internet. “I hope we do not find a world in which the internet becomes something that fractures and where the ability to move information freely is controlled.”

Rogers also said that as no one entity controls the cyberspace, cooperation partnerships are foundational for the future.

The topic of CyCon 2015, “Architectures in Cyberspace,” asks what cyberspace is and will be in the coming years as well as how it relates to cyber security. Issues debated will vary from technical to legal, strategy and policy.

NATO not to militarize cyberspace

NATO's Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, also addressed the conference, saying that cyber defense will be a part of NATO’s adaptation process in a new strategic environment.

According to Ducaru, NATO does not intend to militarize cyberspace or to have an ungoverned cyberspace – instead, it is a core task for ensuring collective defense. “The mandate of NATO is cyber defense, not cyber security,” Ducaru said. He highlighted that partnerships with academia and industry, as well as with the political community, are essential to getting answers to questions concerning the new strategic environment.

Ducaru illustrated his talk on the current strategic situation with a story about Einstein. After Einstein communicated the questions at an exam, one of his brightest students immediately jumped up and said that Einstein must have made a mistake – the questions were the same as the year before. “Indeed, but I changed the answers,“ replied Einstein.

Apart from Admiral Rogers and Ambassador Ducaru, the speakers at the 7th Conference on Cyber Conflict include numerous academics, industry leaders and cyber experts. The debate at the conference is open in nature. "You don't use mass surveillance to catch bank robbers. Why do it for terrorists of whom there are a lot less," one of the speakers, the telecommunication expert Richard Hill from Hill & Associates, said.

The Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, think tank and training facility, focused on interdisciplinary applied research and development as well as consultations, education and exercises in the field of cyber security. The Center’s mission is to enhance capability, cooperation and information-sharing between NATO, Allies and partners in cyber defense.

NSA became well known around the world for all the wrong reasons in 2013, when the massive extent of its spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It was revealed that the NSA was intercepting telephone and internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics and commercial secrets. However, NSA maintained that the phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing terrorist acts.

The number of participants at this year’s CyCon exceeds 500.

S. Tambur

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