At the centre stage of almost all good and bad today is technology and the Internet. Debates around their safe usage, regulation against unsolicited and fake information, potential implications in national security and international relations, controls on creation of cyber capabilities etc. are all happening around the globe. It is not farsighted when many experts claim that “cyber” is the next frontier of war where every nation is building resilience and capacity.
As Cyber Peace Foundation, we feel that increasingly and day by day, these threats and worries demean the potential of the Internet and bring in an imbalance which calls for intervention. With the global objective of creating and maintaining cyber peace in the world through awareness, capacity, policy and dialogue, we have ventured into these spaces in different contexts. We have been conducting digital literacy and online safety programs for specific groups like women, children, senior citizens etc. Along with that, we undertake many techno-legal training workshops for law enforcement and judicial officers across the country on relevant subjects to the domain. At the levels of policy, we advocate tapping on the internet potential in order to build trust in the cyberspace and to ensure secure flow of information across borders.
While all these initiatives work in tandem with each other, a strong need for a volunteer force has been felt over the years. In this domain of cyber security, laws, forensics, safety, psychology and many more, there is a documented shortfall in the number of professionals. Not just that, when one looks at interdisciplinary collaborations and research on innovative tools of awareness about cyber safety, there are hardly any sustainable and scalable models operating on ground. This brought us to an understanding of both the top and bottom level gaps and to fill this, we introduced an innovative concept called the “Cyber Peace Corps” into our existing framework. Cyber Peace Corps is envisioned to be a coalition of citizens, volunteers, experts and volunteers that become experts who come together as working groups for the cause of cyber peace across the world. The world needs it today for the internet to be peaceful, trustworthy and safe enough for its users. Unfortunately, various shortcomings in technology, law, awareness and international cooperation have been widening the gap altogether and there is no answer to the growing cyber threats to nations today. Collective resilience and action are somethings that are needed to originate from our communities in order to sustainably evolve and transition into netizens.
Peace Corps is not about technical skills and know-how
The most interesting part about the peace corps volunteers is that they do not need to be techies, lawyers, diplomats or hackers. The initiative looks to tap into the potential of the corps members in the manner that they can contribute; meaning there is room for everyone. A good coder may contribute, enhance and utilise his skills in the right manner and a good manager can conduct and lead quality events. There’s room for artists, musicians and painters alike which means that the heart of the corps membership is an all inclusive growth platform. What remains the objective of anything that corps does is furthering towards cyber peace in the whole world. In our study of this system, we have found artists fitting in wonderfully in, musicians creating catchy tunes and music for curbing fake news etc. Along with all this, there is also a huge need for on the ground volunteers to take up one-to-one techno-legal aid assignments with citizens, victims and offenders at times.