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Australia launches new International Cyber Engagement Strategy

Above image: Minister Julie Bishop speaking at the official launch of the International Cyber Engagement Strategy on October 4, 2017. Credit: The Hon Julie Bishop MP’s official Facebook page.

Yesterday, The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia officially announced the launch of the country’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy, which outlines Australia’s cyber affairs agenda for the next 3 years. The Strategy is underscored by private sector partnerships and presents a practical plan of action to position Australia to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age while mitigating the risks. It also charts a path to use digital technologies to drive sustainable and inclusive development in the region. The International Engagement Strategy on Cyber Security is a key deliverable of the Government's AU$230 million Cyber Security Strategy. The Government will allocate AU$10 million to the Cyber Cooperation Program to support implementation of the Strategy, with a particular focus on the Indo-Pacific region. This is in addition to the AU$4 million provided last year. Reflecting Australia's broad view of cyber affairs, this Strategy establishes a whole-of-Government approach across seven key themes:

  • Digital Trade
  • Cyber Security
  • Cybercrime
  • International Security
  • Internet Governance & Cooperation
  • Human Rights & Democracy Online
  • Technology for Development

Under the Digital Trade theme, Australia will advocate for further digital trade liberalisation and facilitation through free trade agreements and participation in the WTO, OECD, APEC and G20. She will also Support capacity building projects in the Indo-Pacific to encourage the harmonisation of international standards for digital goods, building trust and confidence in digital trade.

One of the ways Australia plans to develop region’s cybersecurity capability under the Cyber Security theme is working with their Pacific neighbours to establish a Pacific Cyber Security Operational Network (PaCSON).

The PaCSON network will consist of technical experts from respective governments across the Pacific, and will be supported by other partners including not-for-profit organisations and academia. PaCSON will establish operational cyber security points of contact. It will empower members to share cyber security threat information; provide opportunities for technical experts to share tools, techniques and ideas; and be an enabler of cooperation and collaboration, particularly if a cyber security incident affects the region.

In the aspect of Cybercrime, Australia will deliver cybercrime awareness training across the Indo-Pacific through public-private partnerships and the refreshed Cyber Safety Pasifika programme, a cyber safety and cybercrime education program led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). In addition, cybercrime training will be provided to law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges across the Indo-Pacific through partners such as the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In the area of International Security, Australia will periodically publish her position on application of relevant international law to state conduct in cyberspace. One of the cooperative measures is to hold cyber policy dialogues to discuss and work with partners to achieve priority goals on international cyber issues, including international law, norms of responsible state behaviour and confidence building measures.

For the theme of Internet Governance & Cooperation, Australia will advocate for an open, free and secure Internet, underpinned by a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance and cooperation. She will also support an annual community-led Australian Internet governance and cooperation forum. In advocating for Human Rights & Democracy Online, Australia will share concerns about, and aim to prevent, undue restrictions of human rights online as well as cyber-enabled interference in democratic processes. Guidance will also be provided to ensure that human rights online are protected in Australian aid and non-government projects with digital technology components. Under the Technology for Development theme, Australia will partner with international organisations, regional governments, development banks and the private sector to improve Internet accessibility in the Indo-Pacific. She will also work with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific to develop domestic regulatory, legal and institutional frameworks that support competitive telecommunications sectors. For more detailed information on Australia’s new International Cyber Engagement Strategy, visit the official website here.

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