Cybersecurity Fellow Maurice Turner led a conversation on making cyberspace safe for democracy at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum. He was joined Mieke Eoyang, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy at the U.S. Department of Defense; Katherine Fox, the head of international cyber security in the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office; Scott Jones, the head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security; and Casper Klynge, Microsoft’s vice president for European government affairs and the former Danish ambassador to the global technology industry. 

An open, free, secure, and resilient cyberspace is vital for democracy. It safeguards free institutions, open economies, and our way of life. But with the internet and ICT now being well established features of modern life, malign actors use cyberspace to disrupt the democratic trust and infrastructure on which our societies depend. The availability of services can be disrupted to cripple government or election infrastructure, online disinformation is used to influence citizens during elections or erode their confidence in political leaders, data can be manipulated to forge false economic or political trends, and IT systems of political parties, businesses, or state institutions can be hacked to monitor internal communication or leak sensitive information to the public.  The challenge will be for democracies to use technology more smartly than the people and states who want to turn it against our liberal societies. Such efforts are underway. In December 2020 the EU launched a new Cybersecurity Strategy aiming to promote a global, open, stable, and secure cyberspace, grounded in democratic values. And in the United States, President Biden and State Secretary Blinken have called to renew democracy in cyberspace.

How do we preserve a free, open, peaceful, and secure cyberspace fit for democracy? Who are our adversaries and what can be done to stop them? How can we make sure the international community works closely together to foster cyber cooperation and expertise?

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