Cybersecurity: Crime and Espionage

Cyber Sections of the Latest G20 Leaders' Communiqué

By Cody M. Poplin
Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 4:37 PM

Yesterday, the 2015 G20 Summit in Turkey released the G20 Leaders' Communiqué. Those provisions relating to commercial cyberespionage and hacking will be a particular interest to Lawfare readers.

Some commentary on the cyber portion of the communiqué, labeled an "anti-hacking bill," has focused on perceived deficiencies in its privacy protections, calling them "largely meaningless" in light the intelligence activities sanctioned as lawful by many member countries. Fair enough. However, the thrust of Paragraph 26 is clearly aimed at addressing commercial cyberespionage — in particular Chinese cyberespionage — and not intelligence or law enforcement activity. The communiqué leaves room for legitimate intelligence and national security activities, but distinguishes those activities from the "theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors." In September, the United States and China made a similar agreement.

Paragraph 26 is below:

We are living in an age of Internet economy that brings both opportunities and challenges to global growth. We acknowledge that threats to the security of and in the use of ICTs, risk undermining our collective ability to use the Internet to bolster economic growth and development around the world. We commit ourselves to bridge the digital divide. In the ICT environment, just as elsewhere, states have a special responsibility to promote security, stability, and economic ties with other nations. In support of that objective, we affirm that no country should conduct or support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors. All states in ensuring the secure use of ICTs, should respect and protect the principles of freedom from unlawful and arbitrary interference of privacy, including in the context of digital communications. We also note the key role played by the United Nations in developing norms and in this context we welcome the 2015 report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, affirm that international law, and in particular the UN Charter, is applicable to state conduct in the use of ICTs and commit ourselves to the view that all states should abide by norms of responsible state behaviour in the use of ICTs in accordance with UN resolution A/C.1/70/L.45. We are committed to help ensure an environment in which all actors are able to enjoy the benefits of secure use of ICTs.

You can read the rest of the communiqué here: