Cyber Security, Cultural Security and the Cyber Gap: Lessons from Middle Eastern Policy Makers Cultural Security: Concepts and Applications


States face ever increasing ethical, legal and rights challengesthrown up by cyber security issues both in terms of national security,the protection of cultural norms and in terms of privacy andcommercial activity. These challenges interface with greater demandsfor online human rights across a broad spectrum from thedefence of IP to the protection of identity and the limits of surveillance.There are significant variations in the level and quality ofpolicy frameworks that respond to increasing economic reliance oninternet based activity. The link between the effective operation ofa national cyber security plan and the promotion and defence ofonline human rights in terms of national, regional or global humanrights norms in what will be an ever more complex and disputedarea, requires a platform for training and sharing of best practice.There have been a range of initiatives from the international donorcommunity to engage with individual countries and to set globalstandards. There has been little specific and sustained focus on theinterface between security and rights because different departmentstend to focus on these issues. In turn, different states havewidely differing conceptions of freedom of expression and culturalnorms that should be allowed.This paper builds on a three year multi-country project that hasestablished a network of cyber policy experts across the MiddleEast. It explores the need to manage the trade-off between publicexpectations of privacy, cultural difference and the need for statesurveillance in cyber space. It presents the preliminary conclusionsof a group of policy makers who took part in a multi-stage Fellowshipprogramme. This group pulled back from considering somekey issues, accepted profound differences of approach on other issuesand devised an agenda of collaboration in spaces that they feltprogress could be made on. The paper concludes on the needs tomore Fellowship style network policy making and presents a broadertheory of change model for developing policy responses to thechallenges of cyber-crime.