31 August 2015

Internet Cooperation: United States and India

Protecting Our Shared Spaces - Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi | August 14, 2015 (excerpts):

Internet Cooperation
Finally, let’s turn to the realm of the internet, which has opened horizons almost as unlimited as space, and proven to be a great liberator, providing information and services to those who would not otherwise have access. As Cisco CEO John Chambers said: “The internet brought the world closer together, changed the way we lived, worked, learned and played and gave every citizen of the world a chance to participate in the economic future.”

The internet is already influencing many aspects of our lives, including our businesses, governments, power grids, homes, healthcare and education systems, and social relationships. Promoting access to the internet, therefore, will be essential to advancing human progress in the 21st century.

Over the past year, there has been a sobering increase of internet misconduct that has caused billions of dollars in economic damage. Criminal networks targeting both the United States and India misuse the internet to steal information and profit at the expense of private citizens, businesses, and governments. Increasingly sophisticated state-sponsored efforts have infiltrated government and commercial networks. Extremist groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Qa’ida, and Laskhar-e-Taiba also use the internet to disseminate violent extremist propaganda and mislead youth into joining their causes. Cybercriminals grow increasingly skilled in targeting some of the most vulnerable members of our societies.

Recognizing that the United States and India have both been pioneers in the digital domain, we must continue to work together to combat existing and future threats through information sharing. For example, we recently provided information on a high-profile hacking group operating from India, enabling our two countries to take concerted action against these threats. Given the abuse of internet technology by illicit actors, we are also engaged in joint training and other efforts to improve the process through which India and other countries can obtain bank records and other forms of electronic evidence from the United States, for use in legal proceedings in India.

It is in our shared interest to seek collaborative solutions to the challenges of terrorist recruitment, Internet-based crime and cyber-based threats to our critical infrastructure. I don’t need to spell out the grave implications and potentially cascading effects of a catastrophic attack on a power grid, transportation network, or banking system. Perhaps the greatest protection against such threats is the regular and substantive sharing of information on cyber threats and hostile actors’ capabilities. To do so, we will have to continue to build information sharing mechanisms through law enforcement and intelligence channels, and within our private sector too, as this is where the bulk of our networks reside – outside of public and government control. We must also continue to work through differences in our legal systems that can sometimes slow the sharing of critical information. Given the risks involved, these are worthwhile efforts.

India’s recent announcement of support for a multi-stakeholder model for internet governance was a critical step toward a future where all individuals are able to enjoy the benefits of a free and open internet; and all individuals have incentives to cooperate and avoid conflict. We share the view that the preservation of transformational possibilities of the internet requires all stakeholders to have seats at the table, including the private sector, civil society, academics, engineers, and governments. We look forward to working with the Indian government to continue to support this multi-stakeholder approach, embodied in a myriad of institutions that each day seeks to ensure the reliability of digital spaces.

Our populations are two of the most connected on the planet, which is in part a reflection of our shared values. It is incumbent on us to apply these values in shaping the quality of debates that will determine whether the internet will remain a truly global and open forum that drives prosperity and promotes free speech, or devolve into a fragmented mosaic of discrete national networks. We must demonstrate the courage of our convictions as we address difficult issues and aim to progress on issues that are sometimes seen as in conflict, such as maintaining public security while defending individual liberty.

In closing, it is clear that the problems and opportunities that confront our countries and the world require a resolute commitment to partner beyond our borders.The steps we take should not only focus on tangible, realistic wins that serve our interests today, but on how we can cooperate to uphold our common values and project power for decades to come. What we do together can be a force for greater peace, prosperity, and security in the world. Shared spaces offer us a platform to realize this potential. I look forward to your comments and questions.

source: Press Releases | New Delhi, India - Embassy of the United States

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