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Parliamentarians in Asia-Pacific address online threats through Cybercrime Initiative

1 August 2016
Commonwealth ‘can provide global leadership’ to tackle cybercriminals – Secretary-General

Parliamentarians from countries in Asia and the Pacific learned about legislative and policy responses to overcome threats to cybersecurity at a symposium organised through the Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative last week.

During the four-day workshop in Brisbane, Australia, the parliamentarians heard from experts on issues ranging from cybercrime and threats against children, to cyber warfare. The Initiative provides a co-ordinated response to cybercrime by assisting Commonwealth countries to develop legal frameworks, capacity and strategy.

It was the first of three workshops planned for 2016 - covering Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Africa - organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (UK) and the Organization of American States.

Whether through voting legislation or engaging their constituents, parliamentarians play a central role in shaping policy development. As actors of change, members of parliament should be well-informed of the threat of cybercrime and the measures that can be undertaken to combat it. 

Addressing participants in a video message, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the Commonwealth intended to play an active role in assisting its member countries in protecting and informing their citizens. “The global connections that make the internet such a powerful tool for good are too easily perverted and exploited to detrimental effect – as a tool for corruption, and as a channel for undermining the security of institutions and welfare of citizens in any of our member states,” she said.

“By working together to devise tough laws and to implement robust policies the Commonwealth can provide global leadership for an effective and coordinated response to tackle cybercriminals and cybercrime.”

The 30 to 50 parliamentarians from Commonwealth countries and territories across Asia-Pacific were able to examine cybersecurity within their own regional contexts. They shared experiences and case studies, and networked with parliamentarians and representatives from NGOs and the private sector in neighbouring countries. A mock parliamentary hearing during the workshop gave the participants the opportunity to provide practical guidance on how to ascertain information on cybercrime issues. 

The Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative is made up of more than 35 international organisations including the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, the Council of Europe, the International Telecommunications Union, Interpol, the Organization of American States, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, together with the national agencies of Commonwealth member countries.

Find out more: thecommonwealth.org/commonwealth-cybercrime-initiative