The new security frontier
Up until recently governments and industry have rightly focused on how we go about protecting ourselves from cyber and other security threats. We have developed security standards – such as the Commonwealth’s Protective Security Policy Framework – and cyber security strategies and approaches. But have we dangerously overlooked the content side of cyberspace, i.e., the information that flows through the internet?
Countries around the world – particularly the western democracies – are grappling with external influence in their political systems and social structures. There are mounting examples of sophisticated and cyber-enabled operations designed to confuse and mislead such as the 2016 US Presidential election, Brexit and others. And there are questions about how digital platforms have been exploited to ‘weaponise’ information to shape voting intentions, public opinion and debate. What if these techniques are deployed outside the public sphere to target private sector goods and services?
While we’ve been distracted by cyber threats we seem to have overlooked other important dimensions of security – the accuracy and integrity of information and how it can be used and manipulated to create security risk.
Do we have the right skills to detect and counter information-based security threats? Who is responsible? How do we go about engaging in the dialogue that is necessary to address information-based security risk? At a time when trust in politicians and public institutions has diminished, who tells the truth about content-based security threats?
SPEAKER: David Watts is Professor of Information Law and Policy at La Trobe University Law School and a Director of Bainbridge Associates, Data Protection Advisory. He is Task Force leader on Big Data and Open Data for the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, a data protection advisor to UN Global Pulse and a key researcher at the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre.
David was Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection and Commissioner for Law Enforcement Data Security in Victoria and, before that, occupied General Counsel roles in the Commonwealth and State Departments of Health and practised as a technology and IP lawyer.
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