Geopolitics in the digital age

You only have to look at the news to see the growing impact technology is having on world affairs.

Experts cite allegations of hacking during the French and US Presidential elections, or state-sponsored cyber-attacks that affected institutions such as the UK’s National Health Service, as clear evidence of a global ‘cyber arms race’ that is radically challenging democracies and showing the need for new solutions to govern cyberspace.

Wolfgang Ischinger is a highly experienced diplomat, former German Ambassador and State Secretary, who has been chairing the Munich Security Conference since 2008, the world’s leading forum dedicated to international security.

In our latest Microsoft #TechTalk on “Geopolitics & Technology” he describes the current state of cyberspace as “a bit like the Wild West” and joined the many voices calling for the establishment of an international set of rules – or cyber norms – for the digital sphere.

He insists that such a framework should be developed in cooperation with multiple stakeholders, including business and civil society and that it must not be used to limit individual rights and freedoms. While he eventually hopes for an international agreement to be legally binding, he recognizes it is unlikely to be achieved in the short term. At the same time he called for more transatlantic leadership to advance the issue and cautioned not to “wait for the last guy to say yes” to such a new framework as otherwise “we might wait a long time”.

You can find out more about Ambassador Ischinger’s views by watching our latest #TechTalk here:

Cybersecurity challenges were also discussed during the 10th edition of the Geneva Lecture Series where Brad Smith provided thoughts on why we need to build on existing international law to better protect civilians from nation-state cyberattacks now, while modernizing international agreements in the long run. Read more here. You can also watch his full speech at the UN in Geneva here.


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