Paths to Deepen BRICS Cybersecurity Cooperation
The BRICS countries have the common strategic intention to reform the global cyberspace governance system. They have reached consensus on the common cybersecurity threats and measures in response to these threats, and have built some cooperative mechanisms. The BRICS countries can develop their cybersecurity cooperation agenda in the following four aspects.
Perfecting cooperation platform to counter cyber threats
The BRICS countries should perfect their cybersecurity cooperation platform to fight against cybercrimes and cyber terrorism. To succeed in jointly cracking down on grave cybercrimes, the BRICS countries must integrate well the existing mechanisms, and enhance exchanges and coordination of the Meeting of Cybersecurity Working Group, the Meeting of the Heads of Customs Administration, the Meeting of the Heads of Prosecution Services, and the Justices Forum, in an effort to bolster law enforcement cooperation in cybersecurity. In view of emerging cyber threats such as ransomware and cyber terrorism, BRICS can establish a permanent cyber threat observation, early warning and response mechanism, monitoring the cybersecurity situation in BRICS countries, issuing earlywarning reports timely, and protecting critical information infrastructure such as energy and electricity in member countries from being spoiled. The members of BRICS can set up BRICS Cybersecurity Centers comprising
technical experts and appoint BRICS Cyber Coordinators, to maintain the order of cyberspace.
Boosting intergovernmental cooperation through civil dialogues
The private sector and civil society are important participants in cyberspace governance. In areas where intergovernmental cooperation is unable to achieve breakthroughs, high-tech companies or think tanks can hold roundtable meetings to address the concerns of member countries through informal consultations and explore constructive paths to boost official cooperation. Russian cybersecurity expert Oleg Demidov said that the tech community and private sector in the BRICS countries can help bridge gaps between the official positions of the five countries’ governments on all key issues concerning internet governance.45 In 2017, a symposium was held by think tanks of BRICS countries on digital economy and cybersecurity, suggesting that think tanks provide intellectual support for cybersecurity cooperation. The BRICS countries can also make in-depth exchanges on smart city and smart social initiatives, and foster new areas of economic cooperation.
If the BRICS countries want to represent the interests of developing countries, they should strengthen their internal cooperation instead of totally accepting the cybersecurity initiatives of the US.
Pioneering information technological cooperation
Compared with developed countries, the BRICS countries have unique advantages in propelling information infrastructure building and technological advance, and they are supposed to make the BRICS mechanism the pioneer of information technological cooperation between developing countries. In terms of information infrastructure, in January 2016, KPMG International published a report “Foresight: A Global
Infrastructure Perspective” that listed ten emerging trends that would change the world of infrastructure over the next five years. It stated that the center of gravity of the global infrastructure market has moved to the East, and China and India have left the Western countries behind in this field.46 The BRICS countries can break the monopoly of developed countries on core cyber technologies by laying fiber optic cables, providing digital products and services and sharing R&D experience, eliminate the digital divide that confronts developing countries, and make more people in developing countries benefit from the opportunities brought by the internet. The BRICS countries can also raise the cybersecurity levels in developing countries by organizing cybersecurity technology training courses.
Advancing formulation of global cyberspace rules
The BRICS countries can accelerate the formulation of global cyberspace rules in three aspects. First, by maintaining the United Nation’s core role in global cyberspace governance, the BRICS can publish its proposals for cyberspace governance, and advance the transformation in global cyberspace governance under the UN framework. Second, the BRICS can seek for establishment of international norms that guarantee the participation in cyberspace by all countries on equal terms, and oppose infringement of cyber sovereignty or attacks on critical information infrastructure of other countries. Third, the BRICS can put forward policy initiatives on cyber sovereignty, fighting cybercrimes, and countering cyber terrorism, and raise cyber governance programs that take into account both state control and social participation and meet the interests of developing countries. The BRICS countries need to gather consensus and contribute their efforts and wisdom to building a new order of global cyberspace governance.