An Interpol for the Internet?

5 December 2008 - A Workshop on Security in Hyderabad, India


The Internet comes closest to Jurgen Habermas’ ideal of a Public Sphere – “a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment.” The Internet allows engaging in trade, entertainment, research and communication with almost no physical or geographical boundaries. Internet is facilitating the emergence of new forms of human interaction in what is becoming known as cyberspace: a computer-generated public domain which has no territorial boundaries or physical attributes and is in perpetual use. However, this utopia can become an instant dystopia of spam, fraud, identity theft and other forms of cybercrime. The governance of the internet in these cases cannot be approached from the traditional perspective since for the Internet, unlike any other form of communication, the brain does not lie at the centre but at the edges of the technology in the form of users. Everyone can create content. This is the most powerful aspect of the internet as well as the most destructive. During the two week "cyber war" against Estonia, in May 2007, the Russian Business Network shut down the websites of banks, governments and political parties using "denial-of-service" (DoS) attacks, which knock websites offline by swamping servers with page requests. Similar incidents of large scale cyber attacks which disable an entire industry or economy are becoming more common place. This session deals with the issue of Cyber Security. Its a broad discussion topic and we are going to focus on the emerging policies on cybercrime from various developed and developing nations. We would like to hold a consultative forum which will hopefully lead us to constructive suggestions of how the nations of the world can come together on a single platform to form a single set of laws and policies which are applicable to all.

Key Questions:

  1. Where do we differentiate between cyber law and real law?
  2. What are the IT policies in various developing countries?
  3. Is it possible to have one common set of guidelines and policies for all nations?
  4. If online crimes mirror offline crimes then which country’s jurisdiction prosecutes?
  5. Is there a need for an international body like the Interpol for the Internet?