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Avoiding A World War Web: The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace

Lawfare: “On Nov. 11 [2018] at 11:00 a.m., more than 70 world leaders walked towards the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War and to honor the 19 million people who lost their lives in it. French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a charged speech denouncing nationalism and urging all leaders to pursue peace through multilateralism. On November 12th 2018 at the Internet Governance Forum, Macron unveiled France’s first international initiative to that end, the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.” The Paris Call is not the first of its kind. In April 2018, Microsoft launched its “Digital Peace” campaign along with a “Cybersecurity Tech Accord” aimed at getting the internet and the technology industry to better protect their customers’ privacy and security against cyberattacks. Similarly, Siemens unveiled in May 2018 a “Charter of Trust” that seeks to develop adherence to security principles and processes, with the aim of developing a “global standard” for cybersecurity. Until those recent developments, norm-building initiatives were the prerogative of states. In 2015, the U.N.’s Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) recognized that international humanitarian law applied to cyberspace, though it then deadlocked when it closed at the end of 2017. Similarly, two blocs—one group led by the United States and another by China and Russia—reached a stalemate at the U.N. Disarmament Commission.

Approaching the issue from various stakeholders’ perspectives, the Paris Call is an attempt to move away from this international deadlock. Macron, at its unveiling at UNESCO, made the case for rebuffing what he described as a binary choice between “a Californian Internet and a Chinese Internet.” So far, he argued, these two opposite narratives have monopolized the debate and imposed two radically different yet unsatisfactory alternatives: either a model of mere technical governance led by Silicon Valley, or an overwhelming regulation led by authoritarian regimes. While the former does not address issues of privacy and malicious actors, the latter cracks down on human rights and could lead to a “balkanisation” of internet and of wider cyberspace…”

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