Collaboration in the fight against cybercrime

The fight against cybercrime

Government Europa speaks to David Martinon, French Ambassador for Digital Affairs, about the need for collaboration amongst governments and industry to shore up the fight against cybercrime.

In September 2017, the European Commission proposed a cybersecurity reform package in efforts to improve cyber resilience and response within the EU in the fight against cybercrime. ‘Resilience, Deterrence and Defence: Building strong cybersecurity for the EU’ outlined the importance of raising the resilience of cybersecurity measures as the frequency of Internet of Things (IoT) and interconnected devices for personal and commercial use increases, in line with other aspects of the Digital Single Market.1

As a result, it is of increasing importance for policymakers and industry – researchers, developers and manufacturers – to connect, in order to ensure the security of personal and private data.

The Ambassador for Digital Affairs at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, République Française, has jurisdiction over digital issues, including: international negotiations on

  • Cybersecurity;
  • Governance of the internet and internet networks; and
  • Freedom of expression on the internet.

Government Europa spoke to the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs, David Martinon, about the operational changes required in order to strengthen the resilience of the EU on cybersecurity and its capabilities in the fight against cybercrime, its threat to life offline and the ways in which a myriad of evolving issues can be addressed.

The internet is an evolving space and its revealing more vulnerabilities to exploitation, whether that be hackers or terrorist radicalisation. How can Europe address these vulnerabilities?

There are several levels on which we need to be engaged; there is the level of government, whereby discussions between people and government are required in order to ensure that everybody understands the laws related to cybersecurity and the appropriate use of digital technology. Notably, we should all acknowledge that there are people of all nationalities within the cyberspace and that the UN Charter and international laws do apply.

We need to continue to work on establishing norms of behaviour for member states. Furthering this, we need to start reflecting on how we can ensure that these rules are implemented, and respected, by member states. To do so, we need to work with like-minded allies, as well as engaging in discussions with states who might have differing agendas from our own.

Are current methods of regulation and legislation sufficient to encompass the protection of personal data – such as for IoT and Cloud-based applications – or is something entirely new needed as an overhaul to current practices?

IoT is indeed opening a huge and incredibly vast door to a lot of new risks and vulnerabilities, and we’ve seen that. We’ve seen hacks led and propagated by the use of connected objects, such as the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a New Hampshire-based company. The attack which happened two years ago essentially put out the internet for the East Coast of the US. We know that it’s a major potential threat and we are trying to find ways to better define the role and responsibilities of software and device producers. We, as government, need to have discussions with IoT and connected object makers because their responsibilities are huge.

What are some of the most prevalent issues for you to address? Can Europe learn from your efforts to tackle these?

What really keeps me busy is the cybersecurity area in its entirety. I am the French expert at the UN Group of Government Experts (UN GGE) on Cybersecurity, which is dedicated to clarifying the rules of international law in the cyberspace and to produce norms of behaviour and establish confidence-building measures. We are about to launch an initiative to work on several topics, such as:

  • The role and responsibilities of private actors;
  • How we can better prevent the proliferation of cyber weapons; and
  • How we can work to ensure that reverse hacking remains illegal.

The other thing that keeps me very busy is the mission which President Emmanuel Macron gave me, which is to engage in a direct dialogue with private actors and big platforms, in order to better fight against cybercrime and the use of the internet for terrorist purposes.

For that, industry and policymakers need to understand one another better and to get into a co-operative mode to ensure that we make progress in terms of detecting terrorist content. We need to work in an improved transparency with industry and to keep building confidence, but we need resources.

The very nature of cyber and digital affairs is that new problems appear every month. For instance, right now there are a multitude of issues, including:

  • Fake news;
  • Misinformation campaigns;
  • Extremist content;
  • Hate content;
  • Threats online; and
  • Child pornography.

We also need to fight against cybercrime in the context of the use of digital marketplaces and social networks in the organisation of trade of counterfeit goods. I have to say that we, as government, are absolutely conscious of the fact that new problems are to be tackled.



David Martinon
Ambassador for Digital Affairs
Ministry for Europe and
Foreign Affairs
République Française


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