On November 12, 2018, Professor Duncan Hollis was invited to join representatives from more than 65 nations and hundreds of the globe’s largest companies and civil society organizations in Paris for the “Peace Forum,” an event marking the century that has passed since the end of the First World War. While there, he attended French President Emmanuel Macron’s launch of the Paris Call for Trust and Security, a document signed by more than 300 governments, companies, and NGOs. Temple University was one of a handful of universities to join states like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan as well as companies like Microsoft, Google, and IBM in signing onto this important political declaration.
The Paris Call is a French initiative that constitutes the first—and largest—global “multistakeholder” document on cybersecurity. It reflects an emerging consensus about the need for what Hollis calls “cybernorms” – an agreed-upon set of expectations or “rules of the road” for how various actors in cyberspace must behave to ensure the system remains open, stable and secure. By joining the Paris Call, Temple University has made a political commitment to a series of “fundamental principles,” including:
- Protecting against indiscriminate or systemic cyberattacks targeting individuals or civilian infrastructure;
- Protecting against attacks that would impact the functioning of the Internet itself; and
- Protecting against foreign interference with electoral processes.
Hollis explained Temple University’s interest in joining President Macron’s call: “Universities have long studied the impact of technology on our lives and the threats that come along with its many benefits. But recently, they have also become targets of these same threats. As such, it is important for academic institutions to stand alongside companies and civil society in signaling what behavior cannot be tolerated in cyberspace.”
Cybernorms have been the focus of Hollis’ recent scholarship with collaborator Martha Finnemore at George Washington University. The pair recently published Constructing Norms for Global Cybersecurity in the American Journal of International Law, the leading journal in the field. Hollis is also working on cybernorms as a consultant to Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft, and his team, advising them on how existing and new international legal frameworks might improve the stability of cyberspace. Microsoft was an early supporter of the Paris Call and supported the French government in getting such a diverse group of stakeholders to take a stand on cybersecurity. Professor Hollis also serves as an Advisory Board member for Digital Peace Now, a Microsoft initiative to build public awareness of cyber threats and support for the development of cybernorms among governmental, corporate, and other stakeholders.