Review of PK/OAS Roundtable on Civil Society and Cybersecurity in the Americas

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Last week, Public Knowledge and the Organization of American States (OAS) organized a joint roundtable on “Cybersecurity and Civil Society in the Americas,” which took place at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the support of Open Society Foundations, the roundtable included civil society organizations from all over the Americans: Derechos Digitales, Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC), ADC Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Karisma, TEDIC, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), CodingRights, InternetLab, Datos Protegidos, Ipandetec, Hiperderecho, Access Now, New America, and more.  It also included the active participation of high-ranking members of the Canadian, American, Colombian, and Guatemalan governments, the Brazilian Armed Forces, and private organizations.

The two-day event was live-streamed and presented in both English and Spanish. We hosted conversations on the following crucial topics:

  • Cybersecurity governance
  • Human rights
  • The role of the OAS and civil society in the development of national cybersecurity strategies
  • Transnational organized networks
  • The common challenges for cybersecurity in the western hemisphere
  • The importance of an inclusive approach to cybersecurity
  • The relation between cybersecurity and development

Here are the highlights of the roundtable:

The event kicked off with opening remarks from Sebastien Sigouin, Deputy Head of Mission (Washington, D.C.) of the Government of Canada; Claudia Paz y Paz, Secretary of Multidimensional Security of the OAS; and Chris Lewis, Vice President of Public Knowledge.

Michael Walma, Director of Foreign Policy Planning of Global Affairs Canada; Ona Flores, Human Rights Specialist (IACHR); and Robyn Greene, Policy Counsel and Government Affairs Lead, Open Technology Institute introduced their approach on how to achieve a free and open internet. The OAS Cybersecurity team, lead by Belisario Contreras and assisted by Kerry-Ann Barrett and Barbara Marchiori, explained OAS’s experiences on the development of National Cybersecurity Initiatives.

Turning to the challenges for the multistakeholder participation on the national cybersecurity development process, Juanita Rodriguez, Director of IT and Standards, Ministry of ICT of Colombia; Andres Rengifo, Director of the Digital Crime Unit and Intellectual Property Matters; and Daniela Schnidrig, Project Manager at Global Partners Digital debated how to improve and guarantee civil society engagement in cybersecurity governance.

Albert Rees, Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section from the U.S. Department of Justice; Gabriel Juarez, Vice-minister of Interior of Guatemala; and Megan Stifel, Cybersecurity Director of Public Knowledge carried a conversation on cybersecurity and transnational organized networks.

Liesyl I. Franz, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues U.S. Department of State; Alison August Treppel, Executive Secretary of OAS’ CICTE Secretariat; and Tim Maurer, Co-Director Cyber Policy Initiative at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace presented their visions on the many challenges for cybersecurity in the Americas.

Amalia Toledo, Project Coordinator and Researcher at the Karisma Foundation; Pablo Viollier, Public Policy Analyst at Derechos Digitales; and Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now presented closing remarks on the first day. To wrap up the day, the civil society delegation joined the Inter-American Development, OAS, and the Colombian Government in the launch of a report on cybersecurity in Colombia.

On the second day, a team lead by New America’s Ian Wallace guided a debate about the role of Multilateral Development Banks in cybersecurity. The civil society delegation then participated in the launch of OAS’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month in the OAS ceremonial building.

Public Knowledge is grateful to OAS, OSF, and all other participants for enabling a fruitful conversation about the future of civil society engagement in cybersecurity governance in the Americas. Democratic societies that wish to preserve a free, open, and dynamic internet need multistakeholder governance mechanisms for meeting cybersecurity challenges. Public Knowledge’s cybersecurity and global programs will keep working with all our partners to make cybersecurity governance truly multistakeholder in the Americas and elsewhere.

See the image above and more photos from the event here on the OEA - OAS Flickr page. 

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