Events & News


Internet: Challenges and Opportunities for Diplomacy

Dr Jovan Kubalija (founding director of DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform)

13 March 2015 (Friday)
Seminar Room 3-5, Level 3, Manasseh Meyer Building, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy


Event Report [print/PDF version]


The EU Centre, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Diplo Foundation organised a lunchtime talk on the internet Challenges and Opportunities for Diplomacy by Dr Jovan Kurbalija, the founding director of DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP).

During the talk, Dr Kurbalija started with the prediction that in five years’ time, we will be spending more than 50% of our time dealing with internet-related issues ranging from e-commerce, cybersecurity to copyright protection and privacy issues. With internet governance at a crossroad, the international community must work together to address the risk and vulnerabilities of citizens and governments related to the Internet.

Most of global digital policy according to Dr Kurbalija can be explained by two major triangles – in the first triangle, the main question is the level of sharing of data between the business sectors and governments, and the second triangle relates to the core internet business model of internet users getting services for free in exchange for personal data they provided which are in turn sold for a profit to advertisers.Dr Kurbalija also reminded us that the internet is not only virtual, it is also Geo-Strategical, especially when it comes to Cable geostrategy – where cables are located and the way internet traffic travels around the world. This has led to a changing environment for diplomatic activities.

The Internet era has brought new topics on the diplomatic front. The citizens “right to be forgotten”, an Individual right in global politics to ask for your name to be taken out of the internet has now reach half a million requests. “Dark webs” where drug and others illegals contents can be find force government to intervene. Issues on surveillance, privacy data protection and cyber-security also have to be discussed.  At the same time, it also engendered new tools for the diplomatic agenda. Social media for example is an important and powerful tool – but also has its limitations, and diplomats must develop a high awareness of the context on how these tools should be used.