Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity


Closing Remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

Friday 14 December 2018 - OECD, Paris

(As prepared for delivery)


Distinguished Guests, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen

The OECD is delighted to host this inaugural event of the Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity. This is a rapidly shifting issue on the frontline of safety and well-being, so it’s vital that digital security experts and policymakers gather to share their respective experiences, challenges and solutions.

Let me begin by thanking France, in particular Ambassador Henri Verdier, and before him, Ambassador David Martinon, for their leadership and support in guiding this Forum.


Digitalisation is opening up new frontiers of possibility

Economies, governments and societies across the globe are going digital. Almost half of the world’s population is now connected to the Internet, up from only 4% in 1995. In the OECD, connectivity is quasi universal. As of last year there were more than 102 broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the OECD area, on average more than one per person.

Digitalisation is touching almost every aspect of our lives, transforming our economies, democracies and societies at an unprecedented rate. Recent OECD research has found that around one-half of all people across the OECD have accessed public services or health information online.

Emerging technologies are already becoming indispensable to our daily lives, we think first of smartphones, but there is also artificial intelligence (AI), big data analysis, 3D printing, and industrial robots, to name just a few. Other emerging technologies look to be on the verge of making a transformative contribution, like blockchain and self-driving cars.

More and more countries are developing national digital strategies, precisely to leverage the opportunities of this digital transformation to promote inclusive and innovative growth and to tackle climate change.

But opportunities in the digital sector come with a wide range of risks, which transcend borders and sectors.


Digital security risk is a major threat

These range from privacy risks, to cybersecurity, misinformation and addiction-forming content. Digital security risk is one of the most serious challenges we are facing today.

Every digital device is exposed to security risk, from our computers, smartphones and servers, to those devices with embedded digital technologies such as planes and cars, insulin pumps, and factory robots.

Every decision that affects the design, deployment and use of digital technologies can potentially increase the digital security risk of our daily economic and social activities.

We learned last week that up to 500 million people were affected by Marriott’s data breach. Over the last 18 months, banks in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan and Russia have lost millions following sophisticated digital security attacks. You have all heard about the Wannacry and NotPetya [not-pet-yah] attacks last year which totalled between 14 and 18 billion US Dollars in damage globally, hitting hospitals, airports, companies, banks, ATMs, to name just a few.

These examples illustrate that while digital security incidents might start as technical events, their consequences can rapidly evolve into disasters, whether it be financially, or in terms of reputation, privacy, safety and the environment.

Let us not forget also that as well as economic costs, digital technologies can also bring human costs to health and well-being. Children are particularly vulnerable. OECD data has found that a quarter of 15-year olds, on average, spend more than 6 hours a day on the Internet on any given weekend, and are more exposed to digital risks such as fake news, explicit content and cyberbullying. Around one-in-ten say they have been a victim of cyber-bullying. This is alarming. We need to teach children to be digitally literate when online.

So where do we go from here, in protecting citizens, businesses and government from these complex, cross-border threats? The OECD is working with many of you to find solutions.


The OECD is playing its part in promoting digital security

For more than 35 years, the OECD has been helping governments to develop public policies that foster trust in the use of digital technologies.

Since setting the first international standard for personal data protection in 1980, the OECD has been a promoter of trust on-line, including through the 1997 OECD Guidelines for Cryptography Policy and the 2015 OECD Recommendation on Digital Security Risk Management for Economic and Social Prosperity.

This multi-stakeholder Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity is the latest milestone in the OECD’s longstanding effort. With so many experts from the private, public, academic sectors and civil society, this meeting of minds represents a vital opportunity to shape common solutions, principles and international policy recommendations in the face of emerging and cross-border threats. 

Let me highlight in particular the new “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace”, launched by President Macron at the Internet Governance Forum on 12 November. The Paris Call underlines the crucial role played by digital technologies in every aspect of our lives and the shared responsibility of a wide variety of actors, in their respective roles, to improve trust, security and stability in the digital environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As digital technologies transform every aspect of our lives, digital security has become a precondition for the safety and well-being of all citizens and the health of our globalised economies. We must double our efforts and I am delighted that the OECD has provided this Forum to increase the reach of international co-operation to ensure better digital policies for better and more secure lives. Thank you.



See also:

OECD project on Going Digital


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OECD: The vision for the next decade
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