The Charateristics of the Italian cyber-world: interview with Ambassador Talò
Former Ambassador of Italy to Israel Francesco Maria Talò, now the coordinator of cybersecurity at Farnesina, is believes that the word “cyber” is synonymous with defense, diplomacy,and above all opportunity. Anticipating the central conference on cyber issues, “Cyber Tech Europe,” planned to be hosted in Rome this coming September, Talò, recently a panelist at the Center for American Studies, emphasized that the particularities of the word “cyber-world” in Italian serve as a way to look at the promotion of the Italian system and at the introduction of new European privacy directives.
Ambassador Talò, which measures should be taken to improve the Italian cyber security infrastructure?
Italy is a rapidly changing environment. We are equipped with a new regulatory system that simplifies the structure, compacts it, and makes it at the same time more interconnected. A crucial element in this sector is interdisciplinarity, or the intercommunicability of different actors. The Italian system is essentially based on three elements: the public, that is to say institutions, the private sector, represented by our businesses, and academia by research centers. These three supports have influence on the international level, of competence of Farnesina, where, there is always interdisciplinarity in the treatment of cyber security. MAECI is gradually developing its “cyberdiplomacy” also based on three elements: defense, diplomacy, and on the taking advantage of new opportunities. Thus, for Italy, the word “cyber” means opportunity. Italy has in fact a strong countrywide system, with a well-structured public sector, a private sector with collaborative industry leaders in addition to startups. In addition, its academic work is important: the obvious example the consortium “CINI” (Consorzio Interuniversitario per l’Informatica, the Interuniversity Consortium for Information Technology) which has published a white paper available in Italian and English. Now what we have to do is promote our countrywide system internationally, demonstrating our cyber prowess and the excellency of Made-in-Italy technology.
How can Italy promote itself abroad?
The promotion of our countrywide system depends on the effectiveness of our negotiating skills in international organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. In Brussels, Italy must convince others to value its priorities and needs and take advantage of opportunities to promote its national interests.
In addition, we are active in cyberspace the year that Italy has the presidency of the OSCE, an organization which is working on a series of measures to build confidence in this very sector. In NATO, Italy is working with its allies, given the fact that cybersecurity has become one of the five spheres of activity in the Atlantic Alliance, in additional to traditional methods, such as land, water, air, and space.
Era of the GDPR: According to you will the new European privacy regulations succeed at equipping nations with an ideal balance between privacy, security, and freedom?
The European digital field is made up of a triade of values that must coexist: security, that is defense from external attacks; liberty, that is the survival of “open” cyberspace; and privacy, to guarantee the protection of personal data. To these values must be added respect and tolerance of others. Cyberspace cannot, for example, descend into anti-semitism, in aspect which is the focus of the conference that I organized at the end of January at MAE.
In regard to the GDPR, the new regulation regards, above all, privacy and the right of European citizens should be respected for their efforts. From that point of view, the EU is a pioneer in the field. The GDPR could produce results that compel everyone to defend cyberspace as a place of free-expression in security.
Cybersecurity and internal politics: what measures will be adopted to control cyberbullying and other, more serious threats to national security?
Italy has very advanced anti-cyberbullying regulations, and for digital crimes, is a signatory of the Convention of Budapest of the Council of Europe in 2001, which has been very successful. In regard to the internal application of cybersecurity, management is under the jurisdiction of the Postal Police and Communications, a system which is very effective.
What are the upcoming priorities on the MAE agenda for the advancement of the cyberworld?
The organization aims to make Italy the protagonist of cyberspace. The fact that “CyberTech Europe” will be hosted in Rome for the third time the 26th and 27th of September is a monumental demonstration of that. I personally worked to ensure that Rome was the seat of this event. We wish to give an encore, and best the attendance of the previous year’s “Nuvola Centro Congresis”.
From your opinion as the ex-Ambassador of Italy to Israel, what predictions do you have of the “Cyber-Week” next week in Tel Aviv?
The embassy at Tel Aviv is working hard to ensure the success of our representatives at the event. Already there is regular dialogue between Italians and Israelis in every sector. The “Cyber-Week” will be an optimal meeting place for Italian, in expectation of “CyberTech Europe” this September.
Francesco Garibaldi. Translated from the Italian by Justin Daniels