Rethinking regulation for the new cyber age

Stuart Kennedy

The time is right for a shake-up in global tech regulation regimes in this era of rapid technology evolution such as 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

While acknowledging cyber security threats are rising, AustCyber chief executive Michelle Price is optimistic there is a tremendous opportunity for organisations that can address the challenge.

“It’s our job on behalf of the country to grow a dynamic and globally competitive cyber security industry and we’re doing that for two reasons. Firstly, like all nations we need to make sure that we have the sovereign capability to protect and defend the country’s interests and our community.”

“Secondly, with the massive global growth in cyber security products and services, there is a huge economic opportunity for Australia,” said Ms Price who was speaking with InnovationAus on Verizon’s new podcast series, The Age of Trust – Securing Our Future.

The inaugural episode focused on global regulatory issues and opportunities and also featured MJ Salier, General Council at Verizon Business Group.

Illustrating the growth potential, Ms Price said AustCyber had seen its portfolio of Australian sovereign cyber security companies rise from about 80 in 2017 to more than 350 today.

Ms Price said it was important for local cyber outfits to think very carefully about their market opportunities.

“We live in a very dynamic geopolitical setting. Every time there is a use case presented for a cyber capability a malicious actor could turn around and split that use case up in 1000 different ways and in ways that we could never imagine sitting on the right side of the law.”

There is also the issue of having to steer cyber products and services aimed at the global market through myriad regulatory regimes.

Ms Salier, who cut her tech/legal teeth back in the nineties working as counsel for Australian ISP pioneer OzEmail, said global tech regulation was challenging.

Corrie McLeod MJ Salier Michelle Price
The Age of Trust: A podcast with MJ Salier, Corrie McLeod and Michelle Price

“There are plethora of different laws and regulations governing technology around the world. It doesn’t make life easy when you’re a company trying to deliver products which you know are useful and necessary globally,” said Ms Salier.

The law is often stuck in a different technical age, she said.

“One of the big problems that I think that all companies face today is that you’ve got very old regulations. Much of the regulation in our telecommunications area springs from the days of the telegraph and POTS – plain old telephone system.

“This hasn’t necessarily moved with the times. Even in countries where they say that they’re upgrading their regulations to be technology neutral, it just never quite seems to work that way.”

“Over regulation can really stifle innovation,” said Ms Salier. “If the regulation is overly prescriptive it just becomes a matter of having to comply with exactly how the regulator tells you to do it. Then it’s all over for that creative person who could probably do the same thing in 20 different ways.”

Ms Price believes the time is right to shake up the regulatory world as game changing technologies like 5G come down the pipe.

“I think we’re going to start to see a reshaping of how we define trust in humanity,” said Ms Price.

“There is an amazing inspired opportunity for a nation – possibly Australia – that actually says we are going to create a blank sheet and start again. We are going to admit that cyber regulation generated in our country is not fit for purpose anymore. Compliance is not how we need to go. We need to take a risk-based approach about how we going to reshape the regulatory process to maintain trust but become more agile in how we recognise a safe and secure community.”

The next episode in Verizon’s The Age of Trust podcast series is Protecting the Internet of Things. Join Frank Zeichner, CEO, IOT Alliance and Verizon Senior Technologist Andy Lamrock as they explore the latest IoT techniques that will empower Australian business and government and discuss the best protection strategies to overcome IoT cyber security challenges.

The views and opinions expressed by guest speakers do not necessarily reflect the view or position of Verizon.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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