IGF 2019 WS #97 Narrowing Digital Divide in Cybersecurity Capacity Building

Organizer 1: Carolin Weisser Harris, Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre, University of Oxford
Organizer 2: William Dutton, Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre
Organizer 3: Enrico Calandro, Research ICT Africa
Organizer 4: Kerry-Ann Barrett, Organization of American States
Organizer 5: Matthew Griffin, University of Oxford

Speaker 1: Enrico Calandro, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Belisario Contreras, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Talatalaga Mata'u, Government, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

1. How do we ensure that cybersecurity capacity building closes the digital divide between low- and high-income countries?

2. What tools could be developed and/or shared by high income countries to streamline and expedite cybersecurity capacity advancement in low income countries?

3. What are the key economic and political incentives that can united and incentivise the global cybersecurity capacity building community to close this digital divide?

4. What instruments or interventions are needed to coordinate across the national, regional, and global cybersecurity capacity demands?

Relevance to Theme: The current digital divide identified in national level cybersecurity capacity assessments between low- and high-income countries is a key issue in the world of global internet governance. The dynamic nature and rapid advancement in technology and cybersecurity practices means that despite the best efforts of lower income and lower capacity nations to advance their cybersecurity capacity maturity, they are failing to narrow the gap with higher income, higher capacity nations, who themselves continue to advance in this area. Whilst the achievement of a baseline level of national cybersecurity capacity for all nations is important, the minimum baseline level is something that continues to shift and evolve. The global community needs to establish mechanisms to narrow this digital divide.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The advancement of global cybersecurity capacity demands collaboration between the public, private, and civil society sector to ensure good governance practices, the leveraging and flourishing of technological innovations, and creating a cyberspace that is safe and accessible for all of society. In order to narrow the digital divide, a multi stakeholder approach is crucial in determining and encouraging public, private, and civil society actors to engage with programmes that can raise the overall national cybersecurity capacity and ensure balance with any the larger ecology of values and interests at stake, such as around privacy and freedom of expression.


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: Data being gathered from field research on cybersecurity capacity building reveals the extent of a digital divide in capabilities. Low income countries tend to have built lower levels of capacity compared with higher income countries. Exploring the commonalities and differences in addressing cybersecurity in low income countries. This panel will begin with a brief presentation on the digital divide in cybersecurity, showing the relationships between the wealth of nations and their cybersecurity capacity, as well as evidence regarding nations that might have higher or lower levels of capacity than would be expected based solely on their economic well-being. This will be followed by a series of presentations on global, regional, and country specific case studies about initiatives designed to narrow this divide, enabling low income nations to build their capacity. These case examples will be followed by open discussion of what works, what does not, and what programmes, policies and practices should be prioritized.

Expected Outcomes: • Raise the profile of the continuous nature of national cybersecurity capacity digital divide under the current global cybersecurity capacity environment.

• Identify the common and differing needs of national, regional, and global level cybersecurity capacity and the interrelationships between these.

• Lead to the development of a research programme or collaborative group to focus on addressing narrowing of the digital divide in cybersecurity capacity.

Onsite Moderator: 

William Dutton, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Carolin Weisser Harris, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Carolin Weisser Harris, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

Once each panellist has had the chance to talk about their digital divide in cybersecurity capacity, the moderator will engage the audience and follow panellists with questions to further explore the issues and bring in other voices and perspectives.

Online Participation: 

The remote moderator will be involved throughout workshop planning to provide guidance on where remote participation will need to be facilitated. The moderator will frequently communicate with the remote moderator throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are reflected. Organisers will ensure that the workshop is promoted in advance to the wider community to give remote participants the opportunity to prepare questions and interventions in advance and to generate interest in the workshop. During the audience the remote moderator will manage the discussion online with one of the speakers. This will ensure remote participants are given the opportunity to communicate with an expert directly. Remote participants will be asked if they would like to provide a remote intervention in the final section to brief the group on what was discussed.

Proposed Additional Tools: Social Tools: This panel will seek to facilitate and actively encourage inclusive participation in the proposed discussions, before and during the session through the strategic use of the official online participation platform, LinkedIn and Twitter.


GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions