Remarks by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Ad-Interim Dean Thompson, at Parliamentary Debate on Cyber Security

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests. Chairperson Birchall, thank you for inviting me to participate in today’s debate and for organizing and hosting this event.

The world has benefited tremendously from the use of information technology and the Internet’s rapid expansion. An engine of global economic growth, cyberspace has allowed us to create new and innovative methods of doing business, communicating and educating. However, our reliance on information technology and computer networks makes us vulnerable to threats. Cyber threats cover a wide range of malicious activity, including web site defacement, espionage, theft of intellectual property, denial of service attacks, and destructive malware. The effects of cybercrime on individuals, businesses and the economy are great.

In light of these threats, in May 2011, the White House issued its International Strategy for Cyberspace, committing to work “internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure that supports international trade and commerce, strengthens international security, and fosters free expression and innovation.” Via an integrated approach, we prioritized seven policy areas for our cyber policy:

  1. economy: promoting international standards and innovative, open markets;
  2. protecting our networks: enhancing security, reliability, and resiliency;
  3. law enforcement: extending collaboration and the rule of law;
  4. military: preparing for 21st century security challenges;
  5. Internet governance: promoting effective and inclusive multi-stakeholder structures;
  6. international development: building capacity, security, and prosperity; and
  7. Internet freedom: supporting fundamental freedoms and privacy.

The belief that network technologies hold immense potential for the U.S. and the world is the foundation of our strategy. To realize this potential, cyberspace must be open to innovation and ideas, interoperable around the world, secure enough to hold people’s trust, and reliable enough to support their work. The United States’ international cyberspace policy empowers the innovation that drives our economy and improves lives at home and abroad. We invite others to join us in building prosperity, enhancing security, and increasing openness in our increasingly networked world as we head into the cyberspace future.

Last week, Embassy Bucharest commemorated Open Data week, a celebration of digital freedom and an open Internet. A central theme of Open Data Week was “achieving an international cyberspace that empowers innovation, while minimizing the risks inherent to a free cyber environment”. To achieve this goal, we must build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behavior guide states’ actions, sustain partnerships, and support the rule of law in cyberspace. At a very concrete level, it means minimizing vulnerabilities across ministries and public institutions by updating software, paying for required network patches and raising awareness about cybercrime among government personnel and ultimately, among all citizens.

With respect to cyber policy, we believe the Budapest Convention provides a strong basis for our fight against cybercrime, while also protecting fundamental human rights. It identifies the three elements needed for effective cybercrime legislation, namely:

  1. Substantive cybercrime laws
  2. An effective mechanism for formal and informal international cooperation and
  3. Comprehensive investigative tools for addressing high-tech crime and conducting digital forensics.

In closing, I would like to stress that in the fight against cybercrime, no one person or nation can do it alone, we must face this challenge together. The White House International Strategy states that “International collaboration is more than a best practice, it is a first principle.” Indeed, it is our responsibility as a global village to support internet freedom and create a safe cyber environment, characterized by openness, innovation and trustworthiness. It is our collective duty to protect the tremendous engine of economic growth that is the internet. To do so, everyone must do their part-government, the private sector and all citizens. At the State Department, the basis of our cyber diplomacy is to promote a shared understanding about norms of acceptable behavior in cyberspace to enhance stability, to craft good foreign and defense policies and to create stronger international relationships. I think this debate shows that we are on the right track.

Thank you for your time today.