Address to the Seoul Cyberspace Conference

Strengthening cross-border cooperation - an Australian perspective

Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)

17 October 2013

Excellencies, Ministers and Delegates

May I begin by thanking the Government of South Korea for hosting this important and unique Conference, a personal initiative of the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary William Hague just two years ago.

The Republic of Korea comes with excellent credentials – as an active middle power, a vibrant democracy, a dynamic economy, a high technology society, the home of Gangnam Style, and a world class provider of ICT, located in the Indo-Pacific region. I have full confidence that the conference under Korea's able leadership will be a great success.

I take the opportunity this afternoon to outline the recently elected Australian Government's thinking on some of the fundamental questions being addressed by this Conference.

Cyber, in all its manifestations, is now a mainstream, priority issue. The cyber realm is, by definition, global and borderless. This presents both challenges and opportunities for nation states.

Countries now operate in a truly globalised economic and information environment.

As such, we are all interdependent, and reliant on a trusted, stable and predictable cyberspace.

It is crucial infrastructure for us all.

Cyberspace is not without rules – international and national laws apply online.

The Australian Government is committed to an open, secure and dynamic internet.

We embrace it as a source of innovation, economic growth and development.

As the driver of electronic commerce, it is an increasingly important part of international trade and of trade agreements.

The internet will drive global prosperity.

It is already a key contributor to our social and cultural life, and will affect our lives in ways that we cannot yet fully anticipate.

The technology and applications which spring from it continue to develop – and to surprise.

For Australia, the internet offers opportunities which will help reduce, if not eliminate, that "tyranny of distance" – both across our vast continent and between Australia and the rest of the world.

The global economic centre of gravity is shifting from Europe and North America to the Indo-Pacific region.

One major factor driving our region's transformation is the development of capabilities based on advanced information and communications technologies.

People in this region have shown a remarkable ability to harness the resulting global opportunities. Encouraging investment in high speed infrastructure means that economies, businesses and individuals are better placed to take advantage of opportunities for growth and development.

As a globally minded Government, the new administration in Australia has been informed in our policy approach to our national broadband network by what we have observed in a number of countries, including Korea.

In 2011 our now minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull visited Seoul, inspected a number of installations, and was informed – indeed inspired – by Korea's private sector led, competitive and cutting-edge approach to an efficient broadband network.

We need an international regulatory environment that does not unduly restrict our digital trade ambition or the dynamism of the digital age – yet provides appropriate security and confidence for the user.

The openness of the internet lies at the heart of its role as an economic driver, as well as the basis for its contribution to social life. It connects people and ideas; it eliminates distance and time.

It is a libertarian force for good.

Freedom of expression and the right to privacy exist online as they do offline.

The internet's multi-stakeholder governance framework – a project of collaboration between the private sector, civil society and governments - has enabled it to be the force that it is today.

We want the internet to flourish.

Governments are not generally the best or first place to look for solutions to the internet's challenges.

As a first principle, governments should not intervene in the functioning of the internet. Should they do so, their actions should only ever be proportionate, transparent, open to scrutiny by the community and subject to a framework of law.

If there is to be intervention in the internet, it should only ever be a 'light touch'.

To reap its benefits fully, the internet needs to be both open and secure.

We believe openness is fundamental to the internet's success.

But security is also critical, to provide confidence and trust.

Cyber security underpins the internet and is a key to realising its economic, social and cultural benefits.

For Australia, cyber security is a national security priority.

Currently, we are drawing together the many capabilities spread across government into a new Australian Cyber Security Centre, with a view to enhancing our ability to protect and defend our networks.

Australia is making other contributions to the security of the borderless internet.

We believe that what we call the Australian Mitigation Strategies against Targeted Intrusions represent world best practice.

Implementation of the top four mitigation strategies eliminates some 85 per cent of targeted intrusions.

We have a voluntary code of conduct, the icode, for Australian internet service providers – which helps educate and inform their customers about cyber security issues.

We recognise, as do others, that cyber security is in our common interest.

We will work with countries and other partners in our region, drawing on the sources of expertise available to us from the different stakeholders, to achieve our common goal - a region characterised by hardened cyber security.

And achieving security on the internet must not be at the expense of respect for individual privacy or of freedom of expression.

In combating transnational crime, we have learnt from long experience that harmonising legal frameworks and facilitating law enforcement cooperation across jurisdictions are two international priorities.

In March 2013 Australia acceded to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.

As the only existing international treaty on cybercrime, it provides a basic standard for those who are serious in their endeavours to tackle the problem.

As our accession demonstrates, the Convention is open to countries which are not members of the Council of Europe.

We encourage countries which have not done so, to take steps to bring their laws into line with the Budapest Convention and to ensure their law enforcement personnel have the capacity to cooperate with other jurisdictions.

We also encourage non-parties to consider accession.

Cyberspace is not lawless.

Existing international law applies to States' use of cyber.

In the event of conflict, the UN Charter, the law of armed conflict and other related bodies of existing international law apply in cyberspace, as they do elsewhere.

Elaborating how international law applies is the task which the international community must now undertake.

Australia accords great importance to the United Nations' work in developing common understandings on the application of international law to cyberspace, illustrated by our Chairmanship of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber.

Clarifying the "rules of the road" in relation to cyberspace will take time.

However, we cannot sit still while this complex task is finished.

States, as might be expected, are assessing new technologies and are considering how to exploit them to serve their interests. v Our short-term interest is to develop mechanisms to address the inevitable frictions that will occur between states in cyberspace.

We need to develop and implement transparency and confidence building measures to reduce the risk of conflict through misperception and miscalculation.

Our regional security bodies including the ASEAN Regional Forum have long been the laboratory for confidence building and conflict prevention. They are well placed to take forward this work, and Australia is actively engaged in this endeavour.

Cyberspace offers humanity great hope for future innovation and prosperity.

For the internet to thrive, it must be open.

And to be open, it must have the confidence and trust that comes from a global resolution of the internet's security, and common understandings of the "rules of the road" governing cyberspace.

Australia looks forward to working with our partners on building a sustainable future for and open, free and secure internet.

Photo gallery: Visit to Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, October 2013

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