Fighting cyber-attacks: Alexander de Croo call for more Europe and less administration

Cyber attack is a global fight and need a global strategy. At the Fujitsu world tour 2017 we had an exclusive interview with the Belgian Minister of Development Co-operation, Digital Agenda and Telecom, Mr. Alexander de Croo.

We asked him the current strategy to fight cyber attacks and the cooperation at Eu and international level.

  • What is the current strategy to fight cyber attacks like the one of few weeks ago?

We are working on different damages. How can we incentives for example SMEs and individual to defend themselves? First of all they have to report. Too often, we see that when people have a problem they try to hide it, which is a problem for the data they have but also is harder for us to intervene. We are opening a call-center open 24/7 where especially SMEs can get advice on what is going on and how they should defend themselves. Based on that, we are also building something called the “Early Warning System”. With this system, we try to solve what is going on in Belgium and warns in advance operator of critical infrastructure like telecoms and utilities, if something is happening and if they should be careful. We have also implemented the “Cyber Security Centre”, which plays a coordinator role. We see that, actually, many things are going on in the private sector, which might have good information, but there is a need for one entity that centralise all the information. Can we pretend to be 100% safe? No. Cyber-attacks will continue to happen. What is important is that we know about it and we can intervene and people protect themselves with basic measures which can already make the difference.

  • Do you think you should cooperate also with other countries like US, China, Japan?

Yes  it is a global fight. There is already a good cooperation between Europe and other countries. As Europeans, we believe on Cooperation at a global level. These challenges we can only solve if we work together. For example with China, we have strong wiliness to work together on these topics.

  • For digital single market discussion in Europe what is your idea on what we should do?

I think Commissioners Ansip and Oettinger have been doing many good things over the last years  and the fact for example we abolished roaming it’s very important. We still have a long way to go. If you are a digital entrepreneur today, you will see that copy right law is different in every country as the Vat law or data localisation law. There are still a lot of legislation, which today is hampering the digital single market. We European have the biggest market in the world with more than 500 million potential consumer and user, which is much bigger than US, but today it is not enough one single market. We are doing a good work but we still have a long way ahead.

  • How can we control effectively telecommunication in order to avoid terrorist attack?

Like always, technology can be used in a good way or in a bad way. Unfortunately today car are being used as a weapon and we do not stop use cars. Therefore, what we need to do is take measures based on three elements. The measures needs to be focused on a certain public; by definition limited in time and implemented by the legal authority system. If we follow these tree elements, I think we can do many things. What I do not accept is that we should monitoring everyone and do more surveillance. We have always had the possibility to monitor someone when we think is suspect but monitoring everyone continually, means everyone is a suspect and is against any of the human rights law. The question today is not need more data but better understanding the intelligence that we already have. Looking at what happened in Manchester and London over the last days, unfortunately these people we knew them. We were not able to monitor them. Should we then start monitor everyone? I do not think so.

  • With the EU which is your message on terrorism and cyber attacks. How is your cooperation at EU level?

I think the Trump election was a blessing. Somebody said this is the end of European project but is the contrary. The election in the Netherlands in France were very pro-European. Some people said we need less Europe. No, we need more Europe and less administration, less bureaucracy.

  • About Digital Agenda. What is your personal project you would like to develop as Belgian in the future?

We launched today the electronic identity card, which can be transferred to a smartphone and is unique in Europe. It is something that we can export to other countries and maybe we will be able to have this as exporting product.


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