Microsoft, Hewlett Foundation, and MasterCard launch CyberPeace Institute

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Microsoft, Hewlett Foundation, MasterCard, and several other unnamed major corporations and philanthropic institutions have formed an independent non-profit organisation called the CyberPeace Institute aimed at protecting victims against cyberattacks and helping them recover from one.

“For years, non-governmental organisations around the world have provided on-the-ground help and vocal advocacy for victims of wars and natural disasters, and have convened important discussions about protecting the victims they serve. It’s become clear that victims of attacks originating on the internet deserve similar assistance, and the CyberPeace Institute will do just that,” Microsoft Customer Security and Trust corporate vice president Tom Burt wrote in a blog post.

To be initially funded by the core companies and philanthropies involved, the CyberPeace Institute, which will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, will focus on three core areas of work: Assist with coordinating recovery efforts for victims of cyberattacks, and help communities and organisations become more resilient to attacks; facilitate collective analysis, research, and investigation of cyberattacks, including assessing its harm to bring greater transparency to the problem; and promote responsible behaviour in cyberspace, and advance international cyber laws and rules.

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According to the institute, it will have an eight-member executive board and 13-member advisory board comprising of global experts in cybersecurity, international law, human rights, and international affairs.

Heading up the operation as chief executive will be Stéphane Duguin, who is currently head of the European Union Internet Referral Unit within Interpol. He also played a part in creating Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.

Duguin said as part of his role at the CyberPeace Institute, he will focus on creating partnerships with academia, civil society, governments, and industry to collectively create peace in cyberspace.

“The global disruptions from cyberattacks are the symptoms of an insidious threat targeting civilians at a time of peace. We need concrete solutions to build resilience among vulnerable communities, shed light on the malicious activity of attackers and inform responsible behaviour in cyberspace,” he said.

Joining Duguin at the institute will be Marietje Schaake, who will serve as the CyberPeace Institute’s president and chair of the advisory board. She was a recent member of European Parliament, and recently joined Standford’s Cyber Policy Center and its Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

This collective initiative follows the decision by Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to restructure an online counter-terrorism forum earlier this week to become an independent organisation as part of efforts to combat terrorism on online platforms. 

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), created in 2017, announced it would change its focus towards increasing cooperation between companies, government agencies, and experts.

The decision to make GIFCT an independent body arose during a meeting on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly to discuss the next steps for the Christchurch Call.

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