[ISN] What cybersecurity means for global trade

https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/09/what-cybersecurity-means-for-global-trade/ By James Lockett Sep 15 2015 Cybersecurity is a sensitive and important issue, but it is also one that is open to inappropriate use by policy makers who choose to use it to inhibit free trade in ICT (Information and Communications Technology). Ironically, the internet and ICT may offer more benefits to the development of global trade than any single policy has managed to achieve. Cybersecurity does not fall neatly into a single set of rules. Rather, it spans espionage and theft, privacy and data protection, cross-border trade and investment in ICT, and cross-border criminal enforcement. Because of this, it can be open to restrictive trade measures defined as ensuring national self-sufficiency to protect national security. When implemented for the wrong reasons, such policy making does little more than create the illusion of national security, and will tend to inhibit the vital flow of ICT products and services needed in order for countries and societies to leverage the advantages of the Digital Age and Digital Economy. When originally established, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was intended to deal with the very technical issue of regulating trade between signatory countries. Other multilateral institutions created at the time in order to enhance international cooperation, most notably the United Nations, were created to address issues of national or international security and peace. The GATT was drafted in such a way so as not to unduly constrain signatories’ freedom of action in matters of national security, and this policy space has resulted in ambiguities that can be exploited in ways that are unhelpful. For example, in 2010 a group of United States senators called for the private sale of telecommunications equipment from a Chinese company to a major US carrier to be blocked on the grounds that the carrier was also a supplier to the military. In a 2012 report, citing cybersecurity concerns, the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recommended that US telecommunications operators not do business with China’s leading network equipment suppliers, and that the government should block takeovers of US companies by the largest Chinese equipment manufacturers. […]