The Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has asked the international community to interrogate the application of international law in cyberspace.
Delivering a keynote speech at the formal opening of the Octopus Conference 2019 in Strasbourg, France, the Minister challenged the international community to test the application of existing international laws in dealing with global cybercrime threats.
According to the Minister, further clarity is needed on this issue with the growth of the global digital economy.
She urged the audience to urgently consider the answers to questions which constitute test cases for the application of existing international norms to cybersecurity incidents.
“What kind of response is appropriate and proportionate to attacks emanating from a malicious state actor against a country’s Critical National Information Infrastructure?
“What are the existing international mechanisms for cross border investigations into such cases? Is there any level of state involvement, apart from individual culpability, when state-owned computers are used to facilitate an attack against another state?” she quizzed.
The Minister also affirmed Ghana commitment to the fight against cybercrime through international cooperation.
She cited Ghana’s current engagement with the Council of Europe, the ratification of both the Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention) and the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (Malabo Convention), Ghana’s leadership in the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), our membership of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Cybersecurity and the UN Open-Ended Working Group as examples of our commitment to collaborate with international partners to address cybercrime.
Commenting on the potential destabilizing effects of emerging technologies, the Minister highlighted the serious dangers posed by emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoTs), cloud infrastructure and Blockchain technology despite their enormous benefits to our digital economies.
According to the Minister, the advent of AI has led to the development of tools like chatbots which have made it possible for machines to talk to people who would never know they’re dealing with a machine. In view of these developments, “identification of criminal suspects as well as attribution of culpability to suspects, even when they are arrested becomes a challenge.”
The Minister praised the Council of Europe for its work on addressing digital electoral interference.
She cited the Guidance Note developed by Cybercrime Convention Committee (TCY) of the Budapest Convention to support State Parties to apply existing articles in the Convention against the criminal use of computer systems in elections.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija PejcÌŒinovicÌ BuricÌ, who also spoke at the event, called for the strengthening of the international response to the fight against cybercrime.
Other speakers at the opening of the conference included the Director of Information Society and Action against Crime at the Council of Europe, Jan Klejssen, the Attorney General of Costa Rica, Milia Navas Aparicio and the Executive Secretary of the Cybercrime Convention Committee, Alexander Seger.
The Minister was accompanied to the conference by the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, the Executive Director of the Data Protection Commission, Madam Patricia Adusei-Poku and the Director of the Cybercrime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department, Dr ACP Gustav Yankson.
The Octopus Conference, held every year in Strasbourg, constitutes one of the biggest international platforms for the exchange of views and good practices in the fight against cybercrime.
The conference examines ways of strengthening the rule of law in cyberspace.