Dr. Samir Saran, President, Observer Research Foundation,
Dr. Gulshan Rai, Former National Cyber-Security Coordinator in Prime Minister's Office,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I warmly welcome the eminent cyber experts representing governments, think-tanks, academia and industry, especially our guests from ASEAN. I thank Dr. Saran and ORF for putting together this conference in partnership with MEA, thereby helping us implement a long-standing commitment of an India-ASEAN Track 1.5 Dialogue on Cyber Issues.
Ladies and gentlemen,
2. As experts on this subject, you are familiar with the challenge that policy makers and industry face, in managing policy and social changes, along with the geometric rate at which technology transforms our world. India is a case in point: internet-based services, and digital technologies, are transforming our society, economy and nation in unprecedented ways. With half a billion internet users and over a billion mobile phone users, Indians stand at the doorstep of the technological age. On one hand, this means enormous opportunities, as Indians move from no phones to mobile phones; from cellphones to smartphones. On the other hand, it also means a universe of possibilities, our digital economy already generates around US$ 200 billion annually. Indeed, by 2025, India could create a digital economy of between US$ 800 bn to USD 1 trillion.
3. A similar story is unfolding in Southeast Asia, where I am told some 90% of 300 million netizens, access the internet via smart phones. ASEAN's digital economy is already generating nearly US$ 150 billion in revenue every year, and I believe they too are looking at adding US$ 1 trillion through the digital economy in the coming decade.These statistics tell us that digital technologies, applications and the internet-based economy are becoming truly ubiquitous. We connect with each other, move money, shop and pay for services, online in unimaginable numbers. Governments today offer services ranging from birth to death, from licenses to tax payments, using the digital domain. This enormous consumption and generation of data, drives data-based technologies and services, which in turn will power innovation in Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. Unforeseen and unimagined vistas lie before us, promising to improve the quality of human existence beyond anything we have ever imagined.But these achievements come at a cost, and they offer as many risks as rewards. The obverse of convenience and seamless 24x7 connectivity, at blistering speeds, include challenges to privacy, cyber crime and data theft. Policy-makers face competing challenges: citizens demand faster, better, freer, cheaper connectivity, and also want stronger measures to protect data and privacy. Security agencies have an entire range of concerns too, as the border-less world of the internet equally empowers a range of underworld entities - the criminals, the drug traffickers, the terrorists.
4. Nation-states are working towards but are yet to unify policy measures adequately to create a robust data governance regime that manages the balancing act of dealing with both privacy and security concerns. There are efforts, but these are dis-aggregated at the global level. These include the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, which calls to develop an ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance, as a key priority. India is also drafting a Personal Data Protection Bill. Events such as this one help us bring various initiatives closer together, because we all have a lot to share with each other.
5. We need to cooperate, quite simply, because the challenge posed by malicious actors in cyber space is border-less. It is, in fact, today the newest arena for contestation between individuals, entities and even States. No country is today immune from such attacks. Cyber attacks not only cause loss of data - including sensitive State and personal information - they also compel States to invest heavily in protection and counter-measures. It is no surprise, therefore, that the World Economic Forum identified cyber-security as the third most-feared threat after extreme weather events and natural disasters. In this context, a special word must be said about securing our youth from cyber security threats, especially as children today are digital natives. Recognizing the convergence of risks and technologies in this regard, India will fund a 'Child Online Risks Awareness Campaign' through the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia under a Quick Impact Project in 2020. We would be happy to offer similar projects to other ASEAN partners as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
6. At the intersection between cyberspace and politics, the most sensitive issue is that of cyber norms. India emphasizes that the core values of liberty, freedom of expression and rule of law, apply to cyber space as well. It is in our common interest to maintain peaceful, secure and resilient cyber space. We want countries to find common ground on cyber norms, which encourage international cooperation toward security, while fostering equitable access to cyber space.
7. In closing, I hope that the technical sessions that follow this inaugural event will facilitate an active exchange of ideas and experiences. We look forward to your recommendations to enhance cooperation on all aspects of cyber security.
8. Thank you once again for your presence at this event and for the contributions you will make to ensure that cyber space is freer, better and safer. And thank you, ORF, for co-hosting this timely and important event.
Source: Ministry of External affairs Gov of India