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EU Group Canvas Aims to Put Ethics Back in Security

A new EU-backed consortium created to help align cybersecurity with European ethics and values held its first meeting in Zurich this week.

Canvas – Constructing an Alliance for Value-driven Cybersecurity – will bring academics, technologists, rights groups and others together to discuss ways in which security can be developed without compromising fundamental values like autonomy, privacy and equality.

F-Secure, one of its 11 founding members, will apparently play a key role in providing expert cybersecurity opinion on the project. It will lead a workshop to discuss the security challenges facing firms and help to create various resources including a training curriculum and an open online course.

The consortium hopes that within the three years of funding from the European Union and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, it will be able to bring together key stakeholders in three areas.

These are: the health system, business/finance, and law enforcement/national security.

The latter will be important to get around the table given that the police and security services in many countries have set themselves on an ideological path of late that puts them at loggerheads with privacy and rights activists.

This has come to the fore in the UK with the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently passing through parliament and seeks to enshrine into law the principal of bulk surveillance.

Clashes have also come about over the increasing roll-out by technology companies of end-to-end encryption - perhaps most famously in Apple’s legal showdown with the FBI over providing access to a dead gunman’s iPhone.

“End-to-end encryption – and encryption overall – is certainly the sort of thing I would expect to be discussed by the group, and it is definitely the sort of technology that deserves better educational efforts to dispel any common misunderstandings, as they might exist, among policy makers,” F-Secure security advisor, Sean Sullivan, told Infosecurity.

However, he added that there’s no agenda to “lobby” politicians as such.

“It’s a group focused on creating a better framework for research on cybersecurity topics with a human rights angle,” Sullivan claimed.

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