There must be efforts to bring uniformity in the laws of all countries in countering digital crimes, said India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his speech at G-20’s first conference on cybersecurity on July 13, 2023.
Shah emphasized the need for a ‘safe and secure cyberspace’ and asked the nine guest countries and two major international organisations attending – INTERPOL and UNODC – to consider putting in place a response mechanism under different laws of the country owing to the “borderless nature of cybercrime.”
“I hope that this conference will provide us with a concrete action plan in this direction. An integrated and stable approach to cyber security policies will facilitate interoperability, increase trust in information sharing, and reduce the agency protocol & resources gaps. The need of the hour is to share ‘real-time cyber threat intelligence’ among member countries with active support from industry and academia to secure the nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Shah.
Why it matters: As mentioned by Shah, while previous conferences have looked at digital transformation and data flow from an economic perspective, this is the first discussion that focuses on crime and security in the virtual world. Although Shah’s speech did not elaborate on specific schemes regarding cybersecurity, it sets the tone for India’s approach to address cybercrime.
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Concerns around Metaverse: Concerns around the metaverse were also raised by Shah, who highlighted the potential for terrorist organizations to exploit the space for propaganda, recruitment, and training. He warned that this will make it “easier for terrorist organizations to select and target vulnerable people and prepare material according to their vulnerabilities.”
He cautioned that the metaverse could enable the creation of deep-fakes, impersonation of user identities, and identity theft.
In an article last month, Saudamini Sharma, founding partner of Saarlegal, talked about how the metaverse has links with ungoverned decentralised technologies like cryptocurrencies and potential over-tracking of user data – making regulatory intervention a necessity. In this respect, the European Union is working on a regulatory approach to govern the same, while the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in India has claimed that the proposed Digital India Act will effectively regulate these emerging technologies.
Coordination between cyber agencies of different countries: The Home Minister called for greater coordination among cyber agencies of all countries in reporting and responding to cyber incidents. This is also in line with the United Nations Convention on the Criminal Use of Information and Communication Technology that calls for speedy preservation, investigation and co-ordination of evidences.
Governance frameworks for AI: Shah called for the creation of a ‘Transparent and Accountable AI and Emerging Technologies Governance Framework’ to ensure responsible use. In this respect, Indian authorities have already come up with frameworks to check the fairness of AI, responsible use of AI, etc. Similarly, global entities like the Global Technology Policy have come up with core principles for the use of AI, while the United Nation’s Crime Research Department has talked of releasing a toolkit for AI use for law enforcement agencies.
Robust cybersecurity mechanism in light of spreading threats: The Minister asked to strengthen Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and establish a 24×7 cyber security mechanism for an effective “predictive – preventive – protective and recovery” action.
Referring to Interpol’s ‘Global Trend Summary Report’ for 2022, which talked of the spread of ransomware, phishing and other scams, Shah said the threats have spread across national boundaries. He once again stressed the need for international cooperation and sharing of information by nations, organizations and stakeholders for effective cybersecurity combat.
Common channels to prevent financial irregularities: The Home Minister also talked of a need for a ‘dedicated common channel’ among the nations to prevent cybercrime involving digital currency. “Third-party verification of NFT platforms will increase trust and curb criminal activities,” he said.
The cybersecurity conference is being held for two days from July 13 to July 14, with six sessions discussing the creation of an International Cooperation Framework focusing on Internet Governance, Security of Digital Public Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Issues related to Digital Ownership, Responsible use of AI and International Cooperation Framework for Dark Net.
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