A Five Eyes ministerial meeting on the Gold Coast concluded yesterday with a series of resolutions on the internet, cyber security, encryption and, the topic of the year, countering foreign interference.
A communique seen by Reseller News stated that the 2018 running of the Five Country Ministerial "recalibrated the forum to focus on tangible deliverables and practical collaboration on counter-terrorism, countering violent extremism, cyber security, countering foreign interference, protecting critical infrastructure, border management and law enforcement."
But it appears to have done so in the absence of senior digital industry representatives who did not accept an invitation to participate in discussions on the illicit use of online spaces.
The meet-up affirmed the value of a "free, open, safe and secure" internet and reiterated the need for digital industry to take more responsibility for content promulgated and communicated through their platforms and applications.
"We agreed to a Joint Statement on Countering the Illicit Use of Online Spaces, outlining our communities' high expectations of digital industry companies, with a focus on countering online child sexual abuse and exploitation, and violent extremist and terrorist material," the communique stated.
"We called for the further development and expansion of capabilities to prevent upload of illicit content, and to execute urgent and immediate takedowns.
"We reiterated the importance of industry investment in human and automated detection capabilities, underscoring the need for major companies to set industry standards and to help smaller companies deploy these capabilities to their platforms, including through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT)."
Governments can keep demanding the impossible with encryption but it won't change the reality. You can't backdoor it for "lawful" without destroying the value of encryption, and yet they persist with demanding this out of tech industry. https://t.co/BCdsL9tn5v— David Zanetti (@rwmTinkyWinky) August 29, 2018
Homeland security, public safety, and immigration ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US reaffirmed that the "close and enduring five country partnership, developed following the Second World War, remains fundamental to the security and prosperity of our nations."
The Five Eyes ministers said they have no interest or intention to weaken encryption mechanisms but insisted they needed targeted access to encrypted data.
"The inability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to lawfully access encrypted data and communications poses challenges to law enforcement agencies' efforts to protect our communities," the document read.
"Therefore, we agreed to the urgent need for law enforcement to gain targeted access to data, subject to strict safeguards, legal limitations, and respective domestic consultations."
A statement of principles on access to evidence and encryption has been released.
The ministers also called for increased efforts to counter foreign interference and disinformation conducted via online platforms.
Governments, they said, have a responsibility to protect those within "our borders" against both physical and digital threats, and to ensure that the rule of law prevails online, as it does offline.
Cyber security and resilience is of the highest priority, the Five Eyes said.
"The cyber domain is a vector for threats posed by hostile state actors, criminals, terrorist networks and hacktivists," the document added. "A cyber attack is an attack on our communities and our sovereignty.
"We affirmed our collective resolve to deter malicious cyber activity, including improving domestic resilience, and coordinating technical attribution and operational response policies to mitigate significant cyber incidents.
"We agreed to further strengthen connectivity between our cyber watch offices to enhance shared 24/7 monitoring of hostile cyber activity."
The group committed to work together to protect critical infrastructure and support the development of secure critical infrastructure supply chains that are "advanced, affordable, reliable and trusted".
"We undertook to share risk assessments and certification practices on supply chains to underpin the continued resilience of our respective cyber networks and prepare for new and emerging technologies," the document added.
The meet-up committed to work with industry to build the "touchless" border at ports of entry for legitimate travellers and trade.
"We agreed to a strategy to leverage our investments in emerging technologies, including digitalisation and artificial intelligence, to improve facilitation and mitigate risks through real-time intelligence and information sharing, while protecting privacy," the communique said.
Looks like the FVEY is becoming more Internet police than just intelligence sharing https://t.co/zYtjZ1Tdvo— Vikram Kumar (@vikram_nz) August 29, 2018
The Five Eyes ministers also agreed to consolidate and strengthen intelligence sharing, investigative, and enforcement efforts, "including deploying sophisticated national capabilities to local law enforcement".
"We re-affirmed the need to effectively manage migration flows through the utilisation of enhanced screening techniques, sharing intelligence and more effectively reaching into new sources of data, consistent with civil liberty protections, including social media, to ensure foreign nationals who would do us harm cannot cross our borders," the communique added.
Meanwhile, the group condemned foreign interference, defining it as the "coercive, deceptive and clandestine activities of foreign governments, actors, and their proxies, to sow discord, manipulate public discourse, bias the development of policy, or disrupt markets for the purpose of undermining our nations and our allies."
"Foreign interference threatens a nation's sovereignty, values and national interests — it can limit or shape the polity's ability to make independent judgements, erode public confidence in our political and government institutions, and interfere with private-sector decision making," the communique added.
"We agreed the five countries would work collectively to counter foreign interference, protect our individual sovereignty, and ensure our values and interests are upheld."