Like many of you, we work with Global Citizen because we care deeply about taking tangible and ambitious steps to improve the world, end global poverty, and encourage international peace.
When we think about the peacemaking process, we’re reminded of high-stakes diplomacy and bold commitments to deescalate violent conflict and political strife. That hasn’t (and shouldn’t) change. But the modern reality is that peacemaking must now extend to and include our shared digital space: the internet.
In recent years, we’ve seen the internet — and the networks and systems that underpin the internet — wielded as a means to interfere with or harm democratic elections, critical infrastructure, individuals, and economies. Nearly a billion people were affected by some type of cyberthreat last year, and the kicker is that many of these threats were actually unleashed or propped up by government agencies around the world.
The connection between these indiscriminate cyberattacks and global peace is undeniably clear. It’s individuals and societies, including some of the most vulnerable populations in some of the most vulnerable regions of the world, that suffer when governments and nation-states treat the internet like a battleground.
It's past time for real policy action on this kind of cyberwarfare. Digital attacks have increasingly put innocent people in harm’s way — this trend has to be reversed, and that starts with you.
Last month in New York, Microsoft and Global Citizen teamed up to launch the Digital Peace Now campaign, a new and unprecedented public movement to unite people collectively behind the idea that, in the age of cyberwarfare, we must protect the internet, the people that use the internet, and the societies that rely on the internet. You can join the campaign right now and lend your name to a Digital Peace Petition that will be delivered to our world leaders.
Take Action: Demand Digital Peace Now
In 2017, a government-backed cyberattack called WannaCry was unleashed on the world. In a matter of days, it took over 300,000 computers in more than 130 countries and caused around $8 billion in global losses. The US government attributed the attack to North Korea. WannaCry didn’t merely affect personal and business computers — it went as far as to largely lock down the United Kingdom’s national health system, affecting surgeries and hospital services across England and Scotland. Months later, another attack — NotPeya — was attributed to the Russian military. It hit the Ukraine, temporarily crippling financial and transportation systems as well as global networks.
And while both attacks were devastating in their own right, they also served as a warning siren: WannaCry and NotPetya showed the world that, barring international policy action, our internet will continue to be treated as the frontlines for cyberwar. And next time, for example, it could be a refugee camp in Kenya, a Doctors without Borders outfit, or a country’s democratic electoral process that’s affected. World leaders must agree to rules of the road that protect our digital society and prevent the next—or perhaps more devastating version of—WannaCry and NotPetya. And that’s what’s at the heart of the Digital Peace Campaign.
The sophistication of cyberweapons grows with each passing year. But there is currently no global agreement for addressing cyberwarfare and no guidelines for protecting democracy in a digital era. This isn’t a reasonable situation for us to be in—especially with countries around the world, including the U.S. and Brazil, holding important elections in the months ahead.
The Digital Peace Now campaign was announced on the 2018 Global Citizen Festival stage, and we’ve already seen a strong, positive response from people all over the world. But this movement has just begun. Ultimately, our goal is to see world leaders enshrine a digital peace agreement, reminiscent to when world’s governments adopted the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 to protect civilians in times of war.
Neither the private nor the public sector can address cyberwarfare on its own. Instead, digital peace must be a collaborative and global endeavor that includes the voice of citizens—or digital citizens, as we like to say—around the world.
We need you to sign the petition and join us for this journey, because there is no peace without digital peace. And there is no movement without your voice.