Commission's top scientific advisers publish opinion on Cybersecurity in the Digital Single Market

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Commission's top scientific advisers publish opinion on Cybersecurity in the Digital Single Market

Brussels, 24 March 2017

The High Level Group of the Commission's Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) has published a new independent scientific opinion on cybersecurity in the Digital Single Market. At the request of the Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, the scientific advisers make a number of recommendations to make it easier and safer for people and businesses to operate online in the EU.

The opinion includes recommendations:

    On making systems more secure, including by avoiding 'backdoors' that bypass normal authentication processes and by using state of the art standards for encryption. The opinion also recommends a duty of care principle towards consumers that ensures that systems are well maintained and reduces technical vulnerabilities in hardware and software.

    On empowering users through 'context tailored' digital identities so that people are only asked for the data necessary to secure an online transaction and by giving people more choice and control over their data.

    On strengthening Europe's strategically important cybersecurity industry, including by ensuring that people have the necessary skills.

    On improving the coordination and sharing across Europe of information on cyber-incidents and ensuring adequate technical expertise in European bodies. The opinion also calls for a global cybersecurity governance framework, in which the EU would play a leading role.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "As cyber threats are getting increasingly sophisticated, cyber security is of major importance for the Digital Single Market. Europe's digital economy will only bring benefits to its citizens if they can be sure of its security. For example, the Commission is organising today a roundtable on main challenges for cyber security in the energy system. The scientific opinion is another important part of our cybersecurity policy and will feed into our work on cyber security in 2017."

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Citizens need confidence in the Digital Single Market and the opportunities offered by digital technologies for better services and innovation. They need to feel reassured that their privacy is protected when they do business online, to enable growth and new business and at the same time to ensure that fundamental rights and values are protected. This independent scientific opinion provides many valuable insights to help us achieve these goals."

The Opinion draws upon a comprehensive review of literature, and in particular scientific reports, and wide-ranging consultations with scientific experts. Feedback from policy, industry and civil society stakeholders was also taken into account.


On the SAM High Level Group's second scientific opinion:

The SAM HLG began its work on this Opinion following a request by the Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip in January 2016. The aim was to provide scientific advice that would inform the revision of the cybersecurity strategy, as well as the further development of the Digital Single Market strategy.

Within the context of the European Single Market, the Digital Single Market strategy includes regulatory and other measures addressing different aspects of digital transactions. The strategy should enable citizens, businesses and governments to benefit from the digitalisation of markets for goods and services, and thus foster growth and job creation. The Digital Single Market aims to address existing barriers online, which limit opportunities for growth and generate costs because citizens miss out on goods and services, internet companies and start-ups have their horizons limited, and businesses and governments cannot fully benefit from digital tools. It is expected to contribute €415 billion per year to the Union’s economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Cybersecurity as defined under the European Cybersecurity Strategy refers to 'the safeguards and actions that can be used to protect the cyber domain, both in the civilian and military fields, from those threats that are associated with or that may harm its interdependent networks and information infrastructure. Cybersecurity strives to preserve the availability and integrity of the networks and infrastructure and the confidentiality of the information contained therein'. The cybersecurity strategy, together with the European Agenda on Security, describe the EU policies and initiatives on cybersecurity and cybercrime – from legislation and investment to raising Member State capabilities, promoting intra EU coordination and international cooperation.

On the Scientific Advice Mechanism:

The Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) was set up in October 2015 to contribute to the quality of EU legislation and complements the existing science advisory structures of the Commission, which include inter alia the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Agencies as well as specialised expert groups. Its High Level Group of Scientific Advisors comprises seven independent eminent scientists, appointed in their personal capacity. The Group draws on a wide range of scientific expertise, inter alia through a close relationship with European and national academies, to advise the Members of the European Commission on issues of public interest.

The High Level Group is currently also working on an opinion on "Food from the Oceans", which is expected to be published by the end 2017, and an explanatory note on New Techniques in Agricultural Biotechnology, which will be published in April 2017. The Group has already delivered an Opinion on "Closing the gap between light duty vehicle real world CO2 emissions and laboratory testing" and an explanatory note on glyphosate.

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