Ambassador Hans Klemm at Digital International Forum 2019

Ambassador Hans Klemm delivers remarks at Digital International Forum 2019. Bucharest, Romania, May 7, 2019 (Photo: Adela Simona Stupar / Public Diplomacy Office)
Ambassador Hans Klemm delivers remarks at Digital International Forum 2019. Bucharest, Romania, May 7, 2019 (Photo: Adela Simona Stupar / Public Diplomacy Office)

Thank you Daniela, again. Ambassador, colleagues, distinguished presidential advisor, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very, very pleased to be here again with Smart Everything Everywhere for this annual forum, this year on the digital future of the world and Europe. What I would like to do in my brief remarks that I have prepared is to focus on a couple of issues, related to digital of course, that are currently very much on our mind.

Today’s event – as everyone has already said – is taking place just before the Sibiu Summit on the Future of Europe. As Europe finalizes its Digital Single Market, the transatlantic relationship is more important than ever. The relationship between the United States and the EU will shape digitalization and governance around the world. We must think carefully about how to benefit fully from the digital revolution while minimizing the alienating effects of rapid change to so many aspects of our lives.

The cyber and digital worlds are inextricable parts of our modern economic, social, and political systems. These powerful new forces have transformed our world. As our digital infrastructure becomes more complex and integrated, societies find themselves at risk due to increasingly sophisticated threats from malign actors who seek to subvert our institutions.

We face a multitude of threats against our networks and interests in cyberspace. Malign actors present a serious danger, both domestically and internationally, a danger that the United States knows very much and understands. In particular, critical infrastructure, such as energy, communications, and financial networks, are dependent on interconnected systems that are vulnerable to cyber threats.

In 2018 we issued in the U.S. a National Cyber Strategy that sets forth the methodology the United States will use to achieve an open, secure, interoperable, and reliable cyberspace; a strategy that outlines the approach necessary to protect us against cyber threats and strengthen our capabilities in cyberspace. Cybersecurity capacity building must be – we believe – a risk-based, iterative process, one that prioritizes practical efforts in coordination with relevant organizations and stakeholders around the world, including the private sector, academia, and civil society.

The United States will work to promote consensus on what constitutes responsible state behavior in cyberspace and to ensure that there are consequences for irresponsible behavior that harms the United States, our allies, and our partners. We will formalize partnerships with like-minded allies to identify, attribute, and deter malicious cyber activities with integrated strategies that impose swift, costly, and transparent consequences on malicious actors.

The United States will work to increase the cyber capabilities of our partners. Through the Cyber and Digital Affairs Working Group under the U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership, we enjoy strong bilateral cooperation, information exchange, and incident management and recovery efforts with Romanian cyber authorities.

As part of this collaboration, we hosted a top exercise focused on protecting critical infrastructure; we worked with the National Defense University of Romania and George C. Marshall Center to host a cyber-conference ahead of Romania’s EU Presidency; and, we are working with the Ministry of National Defense to help stand up a Romanian Military Cyber Command. We provided training for Romanian cyber officials on advanced cyber strategic planning, cyber protection for critical infrastructure, and international cyber law. In addition, our law enforcement colleagues are working closely with their Romanian counterparts to combat cybercrime every single day. Sometimes this collaborative work between American law enforcement and Romanian law enforcement goes under the radar, but its consequences can be quite profound. In January-February this year – it wasn’t quoted very broadly – the U.S. Secret Service in cooperation with DIICOT and other Romanian law enforcement broke down a major cyber-crime network based here in Romania resulting in the arrest of 16 Romanians and Americans. As we well know – those of us who are in organizations of any size – people matter, and if you look at my embassy, the areas that are focused on cyber have grown considerably in the past several years in terms of personnel; personnel that are working with Romanian law enforcement, with Romanian military, and with Romanian intelligence services who are countering cyber capabilities.

When we increase the cyber capabilities of our partners and Allies – such as Romania – it makes the United States and the transatlantic community safer and more resistant to cyber threats. Let me give you a concrete example involving a cyber-concern that has received a great deal of attention recently in the United States, but not only there – China.

China is working to further establish itself as a cyber-power. China’s laws give us cause for concern, because they require state-owned and private companies to cooperate and share data with Chinese intelligence and the security agencies. China’s influence over its companies will enable the Chinese state to increase its reach as those companies expand their operations globally.

China’s capacity to intercept data is another concern. China Telecom has repeatedly re-routed global internet traffic through China since 2010. In 2016 and 2017, China Telecom re-routed internet traffic from Canada, the United States, and Europe through China. If China is able to do this now, imagine what it could do as it builds global 5G infrastructure. As we transition from 4G to 5G networks, now is the time to prevent cyber vulnerabilities, ensure future 5G networks are secure, and protect our collective security. If we do not proceed with caution as allies and as partners, it may be very costly to undo the threats to network security.

I believe that today’s event can and will contribute to robust cooperative efforts in digital, and IT and tech, policy as well as programs, including our common cyber strategies; it will enable us to refine our conceptual framework, and use our shared understanding to develop solutions together. Defining challenges and strategies is essential to combating threats to our markets, critical infrastructure, and democratic systems in this highly contested domain.

A strong, prosperous and democratic Romania, one that respects the rule of law and maintains an independent judiciary, is a crucial ally and partner to the United States. Good governance and effective anti-corruption mechanisms are paramount in providing a solid foundation for our common security and mutual prosperity.

The United States will continue to promote our vision for an open international environment that encourages research and innovation and a digital economy, promotes competition, and spurs economic growth. We will advance a vision of digital technologies that promotes freedom, human rights, the rule of law, privacy, free and open markets, respect for intellectual property, and American values. Thank you.