Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Cyber Security and Privacy Conference

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Cyber Security and Privacy Conference, January 24, 2018

Thank you very much, it’s great to be here. You know, a few decades ago there was this new movie called Tron. It was the first movie to have computer graphics, like this. Being up here I feel a little bit like a character from Tron, which was interesting for its time. I can say that no one could ever really figure out what the plot of the movie was, but boy was it impressive to look at.

It’s great to be here with you all today. The U.S. Embassy strongly supports Kosovo’s efforts to increase its cybersecurity capabilities, both in the public and private sectors.  I am glad to see so many other people here who share that commitment, especially the Prime Minister, the Speaker, other members of Kosovo’s Government, civil society, private businesses, it is great to be here with you all.

In 2018, cybersecurity experts foresee various new developments and risks in things such as ransomware, artificial intelligence, and other issues. In the next few days you all will discuss and debate topics as varied as national security, cyber education, cyber bullying, and fake news.  These are all extremely interesting, important and salient topics for today. These issues have a profound impact on our daily lives and will shape our children’s future.  They are vital to our economic prospects, our politics and the development and openness of our civil societies.

Because of the importance of these issues and their far-reaching effects, the United States is committed to making cybersecurity a top priority and contributing to a globally secure and resilient Internet.

Today I would like to focus on the nexus between cybersecurity and the rule of law, an issue which I believe is particularly relevant here in Kosovo.  As scientific advancements are realized and technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, we have seen that criminals are quick to catch up and develop new ways to exploit weaknesses.  This is particularly true in the cyber world.

We all depend on access to internet and digital services, but our reliance on technology extends far beyond these services. Today, even your toaster or your refrigerator can be connected to the internet. You can even keep track of how much exercise your dog gets each day. Technology is present in almost all the things we use every day. Especially in countries like the United States and in Kosovo, where internet penetration is so high.

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, it certainly creates exploitable opportunities for criminals. For example, in 2016 we saw a network of thousands of hijacked internet-connected devices temporarily bring down a number of high profile websites in what is called a “denial of service” attack.

That’s where the importance of rule of law comes in.  We cannot prosper if we do not have adequate tools to address and hinder cybercrime and other nefarious cyber activities, such as online radicalization and cyberbullying. Given the widespread use of technology and its importance, we must act to protect against and prosecute malicious actors who use the Internet to commit crime or spur terrorism or unrest.

We need to have trust that our governments, our law enforcement officials, our judges and our prosecutors have the necessary tools to combat these types of crimes.  We also need to ensure that they have the resources and fortitude to carry through in convicting and prosecuting those that perpetuate these crimes.

I think Kosovo is doing well in this regard. I want to commend all the institutions of Kosovo on the successes they had in arresting and prosecuting cybercriminals in the past few years.

Of course, more needs to be done. Kosovo needs to continue to deepen its commitments to ensuring that its police, prosecutors and judges have the tools and training they need to prosecute these complex crimes. This is a lot tougher to prosecute than a burglary. These efforts, however, must go hand in hand with our standing commitments to improving the rule of law, which I talk about very frequently here.

As I’ve said before, the world is changing and Kosovo needs to change with it. We also cannot afford to lose focus or forget the important role that rule of law plays in our cybersecurity and privacy efforts. The U.S. Embassy here in Kosovo is committed to helping the government of Kosovo work on these issues and continue to improve rule of law for all Kosovo citizens.  We are ready and willing to work with the government on addressing these challenges.

I want to leave you with one thought here that relates to what I said in the beginning. Don’t be like Tron. Make sure you figure out what the plot is before you leave the room. Don’t leave the room without knowing what you personally can do to protect your systems, your computers, your institutions from cybercrime and from hacking.

Thank you very much.