Digital Debates

The Online Debate from a Civil Society Perspective


Digital Debate 7: Cyber Security – A Blind Spot for Civil Society Actors on the Internet?

The digital transformation encompasses consumer electronics, online shopping and education, eGovernment and Gig work. And as our societies undergo this transformation, so do civil society organisations (CSOs). What started with digitalised back offices, eMail and accounting, has evolved in CSOs maintaining data and databases, using biometrics and bots, and experimenting with artificial intelligence. Some CSOs have entered into alliances with tech companies while others keep their distance, criticising their business models and advocating for change.

Hosted by Barb Iverson, the 7th Digital Debate discussed the issue of cyber security as it affects civil society. In a world where hackers seek to damage or steal data, disrupt digital life by spreading computer viruses and ransomware, and launch denial of service attacks, are CSOs doing enough to secure their operations and safeguard the integrity of the personal data of the people they support?

Recently the issue hit the news headlines when western armed forces, but also ICSOs, left Afghanistan hastily. And the question of personal data, biometric data in particular, of Afghans left behind, was asked. However, our debate went beyond a single incident and tried to establish what needs to be done beyond good intentions, progressive mandates and grassroots participation to ensure the well-being of people and the integrity of civil society structures in the digital space.

The digital rights movement has created very high standards of data protection and data autonomy. However, they cannot be attained without cyber security. This then begs the question of how to reach a maximum degree of security in an environment that is often cash-starved and to a high degree dependent on philanthropy and collaboration with Hi-Tech companies?

So, the question stands: Cyber Security – A Blind Spot for Civil Society Actors on the Internet? 

7 October 2021, 16:00 hrs. CEST

Digital Debates: Event Series

Every month, this event series will provide inspiring discussions for the civil society sector based on the constant change that digitalisation brings to our societies. Each debate will be a call to action for CSOs to take a more active role in shaping our digital future.

Barbara Iverson will moderate each debate. She teaches Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Management at the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin.

Digital Debate Panellists

  • Adrien Ogée
  • Chief Operations Officer of the CyberPeace Institute
  • Bio
  • Suha Mohamed
  • Strategy and Partnerships Lead at Aapti
  • Bio
  • Anthony Wadlow
  • Controller of Governance and Assurance for Sightsavers
  • Bio

Further Reading

CyberPeace Institute’s new Cyber Incident Tracer #HEALTH

This new platform bridges the information gap about cyberattacks on the healthcare sector and their impact on people, increasing visibility of the problem with the aim of ensuring that appropriate protective actions and accountability mechanisms are put in place.


Multistakeholder Manifesto

As the deadline of 29 October 2021 approaches for countries to submit input to the United Nations ahead of the January negotiations at the UN for a Cybercrime Convention, the CyberPeace Institute and its industry partners assembled under the Cybersecurity TechAccord initiative, have published the Multi-Stakeholder Manifesto. The principles outlined in the Manifesto are considered key to reflect human-centric principles in any cyber crime legislation. The Manifesto is supported by over 50 civil society and industry representatives. Signatories to the Manifesto want to also ensure that any cybercrime convention preserves and upholds basic human rights and freedoms guaranteed under existing international UN and other treaties.


A new generation of peacebuilders is born: welcome to the CyberPeace Builders

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in critical sectors such as health, water, food, and energy are increasingly victims of cyberattacks impacting their ability to deliver vital services to vulnerable communities. Over 50% of NGOs report being targeted by cyberattacks. The CyberPeace Institute launched the CyberPeace Builders, the first global network of cybersecurity volunteers to protect civilian-critical NGO services.