India on Tuesday called for coordinated action by nations, bilaterally or multilaterally, to prevent the forces of terrorism and extremism from building presence in the digital domain.
Speaking at the Paris Peace Forum on issues pertaining to the governance of cyberspace, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said for the specific security threats, including cyber attacks on critical infrastructures, countries should consider entering into arrangements for speedy action and mitigation.
He said India’s support to the Christchurch call to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online manifests the country’s commitment to work with “like-minded countries to ensure that the entire digital space serves to advance our societies and economies, without endangering our safety and security”.
India has joined France, New Zealand, Canada and several other countries in launching a major initiative to combat terrorism and extremism online and secure the internet.
The initiative — ‘Christchurch call to action’ — was named after the New Zealand city where 51 people were killed in an attack on mosques, officials said.
Jaishankar said there is a need to arrive at a global understanding if not a global regulation, to ensure that the cyberspace remains open, safe and secure. For this, he said, multilateralism is more essential than ever before.
He said cyberspace and digital technologies have been a real force of economic, social, political, industrial, even behavioural transformation.
“It operates in national boundaries but has a borderless nature. It offers limitless opportunities but also exposes us to an uncharted territory of considerable challenges,” he said.
“Now, for a large developing country like India, digital domain and its technologies drive our democracy and development programmes; are central to effective and extended governance; and power our knowledge and innovation economy,” he said.
“Four years ago, we launched the ‘Digital India’, the world’s largest, digital technology driven transformation programme. The central notion is that Digital infrastructure should be available as a utility to all citizens,” he said.
He said the world’s largest 1.2 billion strong biometrics based digital Unique ID programme; 1.2 billion mobile phone connections; 1 billion bank accounts; and over 500 million internet connections has created a massive matrix that converges growth with governance and mainstreams all the demographies into national development.
“We are excited about the opportunities, but also concerned about the threats from the cyberspace,” he said.
There are actors, both state and non state, whose actions present a clear threat national, regional and global security, he said.
“One example is unimpeded growth of terrorism related activities, including extremist propaganda; terror financing; illicit trafficking and radicalization in the cyberspace,” he said.
He said states must protect the data privacy and ensure data security for its citizens while maintaining their openness at the same time.
“Coordinated action by nations (bilaterally or multilaterally) to prevent the forces of terrorism and extremism from building presence in the digital domain. For the specific security threats, including cyber attacks on critical infrastructures, countries should consider entering into arrangements for speedy action and mitigation,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar also held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Paris Peace Forum and discussed important strategic issues.