CYBER DIALOGUE 2014   |   MARCH 30 - 31, 2014

The Cyber Dialogue conference, presented by the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, convened an influential mix of global leaders from government, civil society, academia and private enterprise to participate in a series of facilitated public plenary conversations and working groups around cyberspace security and governance.

After Snowden, Whither Internet Freedom?

A recent stream of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has shed light on an otherwise highly secretive world of cyber surveillance. Among the revelations — which include details on mass domestic intercepts and covert efforts to shape and weaken global encryption standards — perhaps the most important for the future of global cyberspace are those concerning the way the U.S. government compelled the secret cooperation of American telecommunications, Internet, and social media companies with signals intelligence programs.

For American citizens, the NSA story has touched off soul-searching discussions about the legality of mass surveillance programs, whether they violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and whether proper oversight and accountability exist to protect American citizens' rights. But for the rest of the world, they lay bare an enormous “homefield advantage” enjoyed by the United States — a function of the fact that AT&T, Verizon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, and many other brand name giants are headquartered in the United States.

Prior to the Snowden revelations, global governance of cyberspace was already at a breaking point. The vast majority of Internet users — now and into the future — are coming from the world’s global South, from regions like Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Of the six billion mobile phones on the planet, four billion of them are already located in the developing world. Notably, many of the fastest rates of connectivity to cyberspace are among the world’s most fragile states and/or autocratic regimes, or in countries where religion plays a major role in public life. Meanwhile, countries like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India, and others have been pushing for greater sovereign controls in cyberspace. While a US-led alliance of countries, known as the Freedom Online Coalition, was able to resist these pressures at the Dubai ITU summit and other forums like it, the Snowden revelations will certainly call into question the sincerity of this coalition. Already some world leaders, such as Brazil’s President Rousseff, have argued for a reordering of governance of global cyberspace away from U.S. controls.

For the fourth annual Cyber Dialogue, we have invited a selected group of participants to address the question, “After Snowden, Whither Internet Freedom?” What are the likely reactions to the Snowden revelations going to be among countries of the global South? How will the Freedom Online Coalition respond? What is the future of the “multi-stakeholder” model of Internet governance? Does the “Internet Freedom” agenda still carry any legitimacy? What do we know about “other NSA’s” out there? What are the likely implications for rights, security, and openness in cyberspace of post-Snowden nationalization efforts, like those of Brazil’s?

As in previous Cyber Dialogues, participants were drawn from a cross-section of government (including law enforcement, defence, and intelligence), the private sector, and civil society. In order to canvass worldwide reaction to the Snowden revelations, this year’s Cyber Dialogue will include an emphasis on thought leaders from the global South, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

BLOG - News from The Dialogue

February 28th, 2014 // How the Politics of Language Can Get In the Way of Policy: On Convergence and Framing – by Tim Maurer and Robert Morgus

In a recent expert survey, we examined the effect of Stuxnet on the Internet governance debate. One of the most common responses was that Stuxnet as well as the Snowden disclosures have contributed to a convergence of policy areas, policy … Continue reading

February 24th, 2014 // Snowden and The Politics of Internet Governance – by Matthew Shears

Guest post, cross posted from the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) blog. The Snowden revelations about the mass surveillance programmes of the NSA and the complicity of other Western security agencies have generated a lot of talk about the … Continue reading

February 24th, 2014 // Supervising Surveillance: Oversight and the Communications Security Establishment Canada – by Paul Meyer

In the aftermath of NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations on the agency’s wide ranging surveillance of electronic communications, there has been a chorus of concern voiced over the appropriate limits of such surveillance at home and abroad. President Obama, for … Continue reading

February 19th, 2014 // Idols of the Tribe – by James A. Lewis

I’m tired of being spun. The New York Times has an agenda, the Snowden handlers have an agenda, and they control the narrative to serve their agenda. It’s not honest. NSA breaking the rules doesn’t justify a phony narrative by … Continue reading

October 28th, 2013 // 2013 Seoul Conference on Cyberspace – by Tim Maurer and Camino Kavanagh

On October 17-28, 2013, present and former Citizen Lab research fellows Tim Maurer and Camino Kavanagh attended the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace. It was the third conference in the series launched by the UK government in 2011, followed by the 2012 … Continue reading

April 3rd, 2013 // Preventing Jail Time and Torture with IOCs – by Brandon Dixon

Last month I was fortunate enough to attend the 2013 Cyber Dialogue conference hosted in Toronto, Canada. Despite much of the conference centering around policy, privacy and governance, I really enjoyed myself and surely plan to go back next year. … Continue reading

March 25th, 2013 // Cyberespionage and retribution – by Stewart Baker

I’ve become a big proponent of adding deterrence – really punishment – to our menu of responses to massive cyberespionage. Those who used to argue that we can’t identify our attackers have been largely silenced by an avalanche of attribution … Continue reading

March 18th, 2013 // Cyber Governance without Government? – by Rex Hughes

Even though Internet enabled cyberspace is roughly a quarter century old, we continue to gather at international fora to debate the proper role of government in its governance. Unfortunately, this intellectual task has taken on greater urgency in recent years … Continue reading

March 16th, 2013 // Regulating the Market for Zero-day Exploits: Look to the demand side – by Milton Mueller

A market has developed in which specialized firms discover new vulnerabilities in software and sell that knowledge for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. These vulnerabilities are known as “zero day exploits” because there is no advance knowledge of … Continue reading

March 15th, 2013 // Director Ron Deibert and Senior Researcher Sarah McKune Op-Ed on Canadian involvement in Internet censorship and surveillance

Citizen Lab and Canada Centre for Global Security Studies Director Ron Deibert and Senior Researcher Sarah McKune wrote an op-ed on the digital arms trade in the 13 March edition of the Ottawa Citizen. The piece highlighted Canadian involvement in … Continue reading