Recent evidence shows Canada faces increased cyber threats both from within and abroad. But is the country prepared to protect itself and what will this protection look like? In a report (PDF) published yesterday by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, author Ron Deibert argues that Canada has potential to be a global leader in cyber security, but this opportunity is being squandered because of the lack of a clear strategy in this area.
“Canada should be forging a leading position in global cyberspace governance and security,” Deibert writes. “We certainly stand among those with the most to lose should cyberspace continue its spiral into censorship, securitization, militarization, and crime.”
The author indicates that Internet usage will increasingly belong to the global South and East, where freedom is an unsettled and elusive concept. If Canada truly seeks to guard against the Internet falling captive to the controls sought by repressive regimes, such as those in China and Russia, it will have to offer the world an alternative vision that demonstrates dedication to Internet freedom, Deibert argues. He calls his vision for Canada “distributed security.”
To fulfill this vision, Deibert argues, Canada will need to eschew traditional top-down, state-centred models of security here at home. Otherwise, the country will only legitimize the actions of regimes abroad when they bring their own state powers to censor Internet communications. He contends that the Canadian government should show a commitment towards reducing state controls and surveillance, encouraging greater transparency and checks on state power over the Internet, while enhancing privacy protections.
“Canadian cyber-security strategy should set an example by opening up the black box of intelligence and national security agencies, subjecting them to far greater scrutiny and oversight as a template for other countries to follow,” he writes.
Deibert also argues that Canada should give careful consideration to how much we tolerate our Canadian technology developers continuing to supply tools of repression to the foreign regimes who seek to dominate their own people.
Apart from these domestic measures, Canada should also look to develop its foreign policy related to cyberspace, according to Deibert. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade could build a broad community of like-minded states to promote their common approach to cyber security.