Event Proceedings

Keynote presenter:

Syed Munir Khasru
Chairman, IPAG

Jamil N. Jaffer
Adjunct Professor, National Security Institute (NSI); Founder and Director, National Security Law and Policy Program, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, US


Dr. Sunil Agarwal
Deputy Director Cyber Division, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), Government of India


Albana Shala
Chair IPDC Council UNESCO, France

Munish Sharma
Consultant IDSA

Khasru, in his Keynote Presentation, described the notion of security before and after the internet and elucidated the changes and challenges that the current security regime is witnessing. He highlighted the paradigm shifts in the arena of security with the advent of technology and the dilemma of meeting citizen’s rights on one hand and maintaining government accountability on the other. He identified the challenges of balancing citizen’s rights and security, majorly as absence of dialogue among state, intelligence and tech companies, and civil entities, and the pace of innovations which has made it difficult for governments to regulate and codify emerging technologies. Khasru suggested public policy initiatives for both the intelligence community as well as the government. He stressed on the need for more consultative dialogues and partnerships among different stakeholders, and more capacity building for policymakers, law enforcers, and data handlers.

Jaffer advocated a multi-stakeholder approach on cyber security and stressed on the crucial role that the state, the private actors and civil society can play in meeting the challenges of cyber threat. According to him, the rapid technological changes, growing IOT and connected smart devices have created a massive increase in quantity, speed, and criticality of data. Jaffer viewed cyber as an element of national power, whereby key actors conduct and deliberate destructive attacks and try to establish long term foothold, and also emphasized on economic costs of such cybercrimes. He further stressed on the need of collective security apparatus that involves the government and the private sector and a common operating picture that empowers private defense and government offence. He emphasized the key role of civil society in establishing trust and relationship across various divides -consumers, industry and government, to identify the costs and benefits and potential trade-offs and develop methods to rebalance them.

Shala emphasized on the role of the UNESCO as a UN body in terms of the role, the nature and the governance of internet and stressed on the need of global norms and international laws on cyber security. She was of the opinion that all the four pillars of the UN – culture, education, science and communication- put together would contribute to the debate about digital age and the cyber space. She argued that given the debate over data and privacy, continuous dialogue is required among the states, business communities, academia, think tanks and civil society with shared responsibilities.

Sharma, highlighted how encryption technology is being increasingly used to secure communication channels which terrorists use for launching attacks. He offered four options from a government’s point of view, namely; need for developing backdoors; to invest more on resources to have better techniques; to control encryption; and to have strong encryption in place and lawful access to data. He believes that the debate between individual privacy and state security is a zero-sum game, where one will always be compromised to a certain extent for the sake of other.

During the panel discussion, Khasru emphasized on bottom-up approach to address the problem and stressed that people need to connect more and touch upon the fundamentals of citizens’ protection and state security. Jaffer added to that and stated the fundamental rules have not changed and therefore, the trade-offs between expecting people’s protection by the state by giving up on some of the individual rights is essential. The Moderator Dr. Sunil Agarwal highlighted the privacy dilemma of the government where it has to play a dual role to ensure the safety and security of the citizens, and to reconcile it with its role as the guarantor of the right to privacy.