World leaders came together on Nov. 11 in Paris, France to honor the 1918 Armistice that put an end to World War I.
While the 100th anniversary of the Armistice was an occasion for solemn remembrance, it also served as a call to action.
During the opening of the Internet Governance Forum, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace” — a new and unprecedented global policy declaration that brings together world governments, business leaders, and civil society organizations in a call to protect people by addressing cyberwarfare. Already, more than 400 stakeholders have signed on.
The Paris Call is, at its core, a call for digital diplomacy that brings together both public and private leaders.
“The internet is a space currently managed by a technical community of private players. But it’s not governed,” an official from Macron’s office told Reuters. “So now that half of humanity is online, we need to find new ways to organize the internet.
“Otherwise, the internet as we know it today — free, open, and secure — will be damaged by the new threats,” he added.
The declaration’s framework calls for worldwide defenses against cyberattacks on individuals, digital infrastructure, the internet, and even democratic elections.
For this model to be successful, however, leaders must buy-in. And while dozens of governments have already signed on to the declaration, the work has only just begun. As more countries sign on to support digital peace, there’s less of a chance that government-backed cyberattacks will undermine systems meant to protect the internet.
As a result of President Macron’s call to action, more than 55 governments — including Japan, South Korea, all members of the European Union, and Mexico — signed the Paris Call. Multinational digital companies such as Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and Accenture also joined in supporting the framework.
“Success in advancing cybersecurity requires an approach that is not only multinational, but multi-stakeholder in nature,” Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.
“This is because cyberspace, unlike the traditional planes of warfare like land, sea, and air, is typically privately owned,” he added. “Cyberspace in fact consists of concrete elements in the real world, such as data centers, undersea cables, and laptops and mobile devices. These are designed and manufactured by private companies. And often they are owned and operated by tech companies and others in the private sector.”
The Paris Call also has broad support from everyday people — and it’s no surprise why. Nearly a billion people were harmed by cyberthreats last year, and the majority had few options to deal with the consequences.
More than 104,000 people have since signed the petition, and with the Paris Call, their voices are being heard by world leaders.
“As was the case a century ago, the nature of technology and warfare is changing,” Smith wrote in his blog post. “A century ago, governments and human institutions failed to adapt to the changing world. This century, we need to do better.
“With the help of clear principles, strong protection and a growing multi-stakeholder coalition, we can build on today’s milestones and continue to provide the world the strong cybersecurity it deserves,” he said.
Everyone can play an important role by publicly thanking leaders who have stepped up to sign the Paris Call and encouraging others to do the same by signing the Digital Peace Now petition at digitalpeacenow.org.