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Cybersecurity and privacy dialogue between Europe and Japan

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The EU and Japan jointly develop cybersecurity recommendations

Japan and the EU face the same cybersecurity problems and worked together to solve them.

Digital Economy

These days, virtually everything is online. This includes stored information plus active control systems. Yet, anything online is also vulnerable. A key problem is that Europe does not control the technology it uses to run the internet. Europeans mostly use standard commercial software. Therefore, instead of controlling the technology, the EU develops standards to certify that such software meets EU expectations. Japan’s government faces all of the same problems. Therefore, it makes sense for the EU and Japan to collaborate on cybersecurity. The EU-funded EUNITY project represented the EU in liaisons with Japan to develop new cybersecurity and privacy technologies. The coordination and support action project stimulated dialogue, raised awareness of EU strategies and results, and proposed policy recommendations.

Raising SME visibility

“The main challenge,” says EUNITY coordinator Dr Hervé Debar, “was raising the visibility of EU activities with Japanese decision-makers.” Japanese officials are aware of EU cybersecurity start-up companies, which offer advanced products in niche markets. The Japanese allow these companies to operate in their market. “However,” adds Dr Debar, “such start-ups often lack the visibility of the EU’s major cybersecurity players. The Japanese see the start-ups as system integrators but not necessarily as technology providers.” EUNITY endeavoured to change the Japanese viewpoint about EU cybersecurity start-ups. The project also shared information with Japanese business leaders about the EU’s cybersecurity systems. “We organised two successful workshops,” says Dr Debar, “one in Tokyo and the other in Brussels. Delegates identified the most important issues for expanding the collaboration.” These were documented as a set of eight detailed policy recommendations, concerning education, research and development. Most recommendations are offered in conjunction with short- and medium-term action plans, and in some cases long-term plans as well.

New policy recommendations

Delegates first recommended establishment of institutional cyber cooperation between the EU and Japan. This will involve establishment of two permanent focusing authorities to lead the cooperation. Furthermore, since SMEs face budgetary limitations and a lack of qualified personnel, the cooperation will support these organisations to obtain suitable cybersecurity tools via a dedicated SME platform. Both parties also agreed to share cyberthreat information. However, the current legal and technical framework is inadequate for seamless exchange. Therefore, common methods, tools and data formats will be adopted. Many businesses depend on personal data supplied by clients, but such data require special care when transferred. So, Japan and the EU agreed to develop a suitable legal framework for data sharing. The parties further agreed to create joint training programmes. Another thing to be shared will be an Internet of things database, detailing vulnerabilities, best practices for protection, and also threat detection and mitigation. Japan and the EU will support cyberprotection in areas of special vulnerability, including Big Data endeavours, smart city programmes and Industry 4.0. The final recommendation concerns development of a legal and policy framework about the regulation of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity. Concerning the future of the EUNITY project, team members will continue to maintain close collaboration with Japanese partners regarding education and research. Staff exchanges are also scheduled. As a result of EUNITY’s work, Europe and Japan will be equipped to work together on cybersecurity. Both regions will be better protected from cyberthreats in the future.


EUNITY, cybersecurity, Japan, technology, policy recommendations, start-ups, collaboration, cyberthreat, Big Data

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