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07 March 2014


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‘Commonwealth Cybergovernance Model’ is Adopted by the Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum

The Commonwealth Ministers responsible for ICT adopted a joint policy document, the ‘Commonwealth Cybergovernance Model’, which introduces four common principles and a guide to practical action in cybergovernance for Commonwealth members.

The Ministers responsible for ICT and their advisors from over 35 Commonwealth countries met in London on 3 – 4 March 2014 for what is expected to be the first in a series of biennial ministerial meetings.1 The Ministers agreed to make progress on the Commonwealth Plan for Broadband Inclusion, ICTs and disability, and ICTs in education, and they noted that the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings in 2011 and 2013 had endorsed the Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative.2

The Ministers also adopted the 16-page ‘Commonwealth Cybergovernance Model’3 drafted by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.4 The Model, structured in a similar way to a national strategy, introduces four main principles of cybergovernance:

  1. to contribute to a safe and an effective global cyberspace;

  2. to support broader economic and social development with actions in cyberspace;

  3. to act individually and collectively to tackle cybercrime; and

  4. to exercise rights and meet responsibilities in cyberspace.

These principles are further developed by a guide to practical actions for Commonwealth members. This guide includes such actions as developing and tailoring national cybersecurity strategies, implementing laws to fight cybercrime, bringing forward legislation on computer and network misuse, identifying national critical information infrastructure and its regional linkages, developing strategies for its protection, adopting measures to encourage sharing of incident information between CERTs, and developing policy and providing guidance on achieving the balance between privacy and freedom of expression.

The Model explicitly links the cybergovernance principles to the core values of the Charter of the Commonwealth5 from 11 March 2013, ranging from human rights to sustainable development.

The real effect of the Model will become evident over the coming years, but the harmonisation of cybersecurity laws and policies on the basis of shared values throughout the Commonwealth is definitely a step in the right direction.

The Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum was followed by the Commonwealth Cybersecurity Forum (5 – 6 March 2014) under the theme of ‘Developing National Cybersecurity Frameworks’.6 Key topics included launching the just adopted Model, developing national plans for critical information infrastructure protection, and implementing Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).