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#RSAC: Australia Calls to Fight Back Against Attempts to Control Internet

The Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs insists that in order to reap the enormous economic growth opportunity that cyberspace offers, the internet must remain free, open and uncensored

In his keynote at RSA Conference 2017 Asia Pacific and Japan in Singapore on July 27 2017, Dr Tobias Feakin, the Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, shared his concern about some nations’ desire to control and restrict the flow of data.

“Cyberspace offers us an enormous opportunity for economic growth in APAC. It’s government’s job to enable businesses to take advantage of these wonderful online opportunities. We also recognize this is only possible if underpinned by a free, open and secure internet. That is at the heart of the cyber diplomacy bill”, said Dr Feakin. “Cybersecurity and internet governance are central to our diplomacy abroad.”

Governments, he said, “should resist the compulsion to control and restrict the flow of data. The attempts we see from some countries to exert excessive control needs to be countered.” This is the responsibility of other nation states, governments, and the private sector, he added. “I’m hoping that all of us can work to this goal - to fight back against attempts to lock down and fragment the internet.”

The private sector, in particular, is a hugely powerful voice, he added. “The private sector owns the majority of the backbone of the internet’s infrastructure, it is hugely powerful and a key partner in achieving that goal.”

Cyber affairs, said Feakin, have fundamentally shifted from being a technical issue to one which is a strategic issues for countries. “Nation states have fought, traded, stolen and aided each other since the dawn of human history, but we’re starting to see that behavior transforming to the online space. There is scarcely an international issue now without some kind of cyber component attached to it.”

The Australian Government, he added, is trying to protect IP as much as it possibly can. “We’re also investing large amounts in R&D to strengthen Australia’s digital capabilities in the long-term.” After all, he concluded, “our economic prosperity is at stake.” 

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