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Speeches, 10/17/2013

Speech by Minister Tuomioja at Seoul Conference on Cyberspace

Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013
Plenary 1: “Vision for Cyberspace”
Thursday 17 October 2013, Seoul

Keynote speech by Mr. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs

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Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m honored to address you today and share with you Finland´s vision for cyberspace. First, I wish to use this opportunity to thank the organizers of this high-level conference series: Republic of Korea, our host this year, and the previous organizers, the United Kingdom and Hungary.

Information technology, the Internet and social media have created a cyber space world, which opens up huge opportunities for civil society, private sector as well as governments. Everyone should be able to enjoy these advantages.

However, cyberspace can also be harnessed to serve negative purposes. Examples of this - cyber attacks, hacking and phishing – are daily in the news. They have increasingly serious repercussions for individuals, businesses, states and the society in general.

Unauthorized surveillance on the Internet and other telecommunications for security purposes has highlighted the question of the right to privacy. At the same time, freedom in the online world is under pressure with attempts to control and limit online communication. Freedom of speech and expression should be respected equally in cyberspace and offline.

In the cyber security strategy of the European Union, published earlier this year, many of these aspects are addressed, and principles and actions are outlined. The strategy reflects a balanced approach to the broad and complex issue of cyberspace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both the opportunities available as well as the vulnerability of our societies and of the interconnected world more globally have increased in a striking manner. Cyber security has become a more and more important issue also as part of security policy. Due to the borderless nature of cyberspace as a global commons they cannot be addressed adequately except through broad multilateral cooperation.

Discussions are ongoing at various fora on how governments could together build more trust and confidence in cyberspace. In the recent UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) report importance is given to the work of regional security organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), in developing confidence-building measures, CBMs, in cyberspace.

We in Finland consider multi-stakeholder cooperation as vital both at the international and national levels. This was also emphasised in our national Cyber security strategy which was approved in January this year. In the strategy the key goals and guidelines are defined for responding to threats against and through the cyber domain, and for ensuring the vital functions of the society.

Today, cyber attacks can be and are being used as a means of warfare, involving politically motivated attacks on information and information systems. This raises the question of the applicability of international law. In our opinion, customary international law and treaty obligations regulating states' behaviour in times of peace and war do apply also in cyberspace. Also, when developing cyber capabilities states must bear in mind their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The issue of governance has drawn additional attention as the importance of cyberspace has grown globally. At the same time, the recent discussion about the need to prevent unauthorized surveillance has given added impetus to the issue. We must however be sensitive to the possibility that the need to improve regulation of cyberspace may also be misused for restricting freedom of the Internet.

The Internet is a network of millions of networks that cannot be governed in a traditional sense. We see that the Internet has to be governed and challenges need to be tackled in an open and deep multi-stakeholder cooperation involving governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. We appreciate the discussions held in the Internet Governance Forum as an inclusive multi-stakeholder setting on the broad range of Internet´s public policy issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All human rights apply equally offline and online. Therefore human rights must be systematically mainstreamed into the discussion and decisions taken on internet governance and any other policy field that has an impact on the realization of human rights online. Recognizing this, Finland joined the Freedom Online Coalition in 2012 and is also planning to join the Digital Defenders Partnership.

The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in international and regional human rights instruments. Any restrictions must comply with the rule of law and should never be discriminatory in their nature. Responsible use of human rights presupposes that the human rights of others are respected. For example, hate speech online is no more acceptable than it is in the printed media.

As far as Internet is concerned, governmental measures should never undermine the realization of anyone's human rights. We should not tolerate a situation where every user of public email services has to take into account that all of his/her netuse data and messages can be stored and opened by someone somewhere

The right to privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in international and regional treaties. Existing international human rights instruments provide adequate protection of private life, also when using modern technologies. However, there are gaps in the implementation, and different treaty bodies and other mechanisms for monitoring implementation of the treaties should be better utilized.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

How can security, freedom of expression and privacy protection be combined?

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, recently stated that “surveillance without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy actually risk impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The key issues related to the organization of surveillance activities are: 1) compliance with the principles of democracy, 2) transparency and respect for the rule of law; 3) full respect for human rights, notably respect for the right to privacy, 4) right to access to information as well as the right to freedom of expression; and 5) free use of the Internet in conditions governed by new technology.

Our duty as governments is to put in place sufficient legislation regulating surveillance and to clearly define those most exceptional circumstances under which surveillance can lawfully - and always under independent judicial supervision - occur.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In my vision for cyberspace, there continues to be one single Internet, comparable to other global commons, which is accessible for all people in all corners of the world, where users feel secure and that their fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and privacy are respected.

Privacy and security do not exclude each other, they can be mutually reinforcing. In order to improve cyber security, it is important that all citizens, enterprises and authorities are able to trust in safe processing of digital information.

The Internet as a global platform has become essential for the economic growth and innovation. But at the same time digital divide has become one of the most important divides in the world. Therefore, accessibility and affordability of the Internet as well as the human capacities of developing countries on harnessing the benefits of the Internet must be prioritized.

Thank you for your attention. Kamsa Hamnida.

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Updated 10/17/2013

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