Tag Archives: Cybersecurity

Brookings Institute Memo to the US President – Big Bets and Black Swans: Securing the Future of the Internet by Peter Singer & Ian Wallace

At the beginning of every year the Brooking institution releases the Big Bets and Black Swans – a memo addressed to the US president with policy insights and actionable recommendations on challenges lying ahead. Of interest to me is that this year’s memo among other things addresses the internet.

Peter Singer and Ian Wallace memo to the president looks at how the Barack Obama administration can secure the future of the internet as we know it today. This comes against the backdrop of Edward Snowden’s jaw dropping revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency. This revelations have kick started a debate among nation states and internet stakeholders on the future of internet. One of these stakeholder meetings is set to take place in Sao Paulo Brazil in April 23-24, 2014. This stakeholder meeting is an ICANN organised meet with the support of Brazilian government which had big fallout with Obama administration over NSA spying concerns of President Dilma Rousseff.

One of the main agenda of the ICANN Brazil Gig is to come up with principles of ‘internet governance’. Peter Singer and Ian Wallace in their memo to the president rightfully point out that once Edward Snowden raised the demining report of NSA activities Washington has taken a back seat on matters of protecting the internet since they do not have the moral authority to pontificate on such matters given what NSA has been doing. However, the two authors seek to have the president raise the priority of internet policy and strategy. In so doing the United States would play a pivotal role in the raging debate on ‘internet governance’.


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Global Government Surveillance Reform: An Open Letter by Eight big IT companies

Below is an open letter to US President and Members of Congress by eight big IT companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo) under the auspices of Reform Government Surveillance group. The are asking for less state surveillance on personal data.

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com


AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

The Principles guiding this Group

1. Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information
Governments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users’ reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.

2. Oversight and Accountability
Intelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.

3. Transparency About Government Demands
Transparency is essential to a debate over governments’ surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information.
In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.

4. Respecting the Free Flow of Information
The ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country’s borders or operate locally.

5. Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments
In order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty — or “MLAT” — processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.

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In the News: Africans Online Freedom under threat – kachwanya.com

On the surface the draft convention looks very well-intended but wait until you read some articles in the convention. As espoused by Dennis Mbuvi on his blog post “African Countries propose stringent rules governing e-commerce and data” – Kachwanya.com

November 1, 2013

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CIPIT’s Letter to the African Union Calling for Stakeholder Input on the African Union Convention on Cyberspace

Below is a letter from Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law addressed to the African Union calling for more stakeholder input on African Union draft Cybersecurity Convention.

Here is the link

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Definition of Cybersecurity and Terms Associated with it

The African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace uses some terms that are really technical. In fact part 1 of the convention deals with definition of terms used in the convention. However, to fully grasp the intended objectives of this convention one needs to delve into the vices it seeks to wipe out of the African continent.

First things first the definition of Cybersecurity;

This refers to the technologies and processes designed to protect computers, networks and data from unauthorized access, vulnerabilities and attacks delivered via the Internet by cyber criminals.

Cybersecurity is what this convention intends to achieve however, in the process of doing so it has interfered with some fundamental rights and freedoms hence the reason we are having this petition.
Cyber crime and its different manifestations

Cyber crime Continue reading

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Paper Review: Basic drawbacks of the Draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace

Cyber security in Africa
Enoakpa Nkongho identifies five main drawbacks contained in the draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace. In a journal paper titled the case for a pan African Solution to Cyber-crime: A critical Review of the Draft AU convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace Mr. Enoakpa fronts the following five main arguments which should form a basis for halting the passage of the draft in its current form.

The AU draft contains clauses that will result in;
1. Violation of the right to privacy.
2. Violation of the right to freedom of expression
3. Legislation overkill especially the unjustified burden the law will have on the individual
4. Similarly there shall be an unjustified burden on corporations as a result of legislative overkill in the AUDCCSC
5. The granting of absolute powers of judges: This will form a basis for unjust civil liberties curtailment and for procedural flaws in the AU draft convention

In each of the above arguments Mr. Enoakpa goes to great lengths to list down the provisions contained in the draft legislation that curtail the basic freedoms identified.

In the case of violation of the right to privacy Enoakpa contends that the draft uses contested concept such as state security and public interest. The two terms [state security and public interest] have been used by African countries in the past to quash opposition and as such if this convention is passed and ratified by individual countries it might become the carte blanche to muzzle divergent views.

In respect to violation of the right to freedom of expression the paper point out that African’s are increasingly adopting the use of social media networks and blogs to voice their opinions. In most instance this opinions might be critical to the government of the day. Thus, in some instances folks have used pseudonym names to get word out on repressive practices by their governments or to voice criticism. The author in this case presents his reservations on the provision that would result in interception of traffic and content data.

The other contention raised by the author against the AU cyber security convention in this paper is the legislative overkill which would place an unjustified burden to the individual and corporations.

Lastly, the AU Cybersecurity convention gives absolute powers to judges which would be a basis for unjust civil liberties curtailment.

It is on these five points that Enoakpa Nkongho contends that the draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace should not be adopted AU member states in January 2014.


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African Union Draft Convention on Cyberspace and Cybersecurity


Welcome to an open forum on the discussion of The Draft African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace. The Draft Convention has been developed jointly by the African Union Commission (AUC) the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

With little or no Consultation from stakeholders in African Union Member States, the Draft is now in its final stage of development. It has been approved by the 22nd Ordinary session of the AU Executive Council (January 2013). Legal validation by the AU Ministers of Justice Conference scheduled to take place in October 2013. Thereafter, it will be adopted during an AU Summit in January 2014. Afterwards, the ratification process will start.

Given that the Draft Convention is teeming with anomalies that have an adverse effect on business, individual rights and freedoms, the social and economic sphere, it is crucial to discourage the passage of this piece of legislation as it is here.

What is your take?


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