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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Rollout of the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, Secretary Clinton.  It is a privilege to join with you – and with Secretary Locke, Secretary Napolitano, and so many government and business leaders, security experts, civil rights advocates, and international allies – as we announce a new strategy aimed at engaging our global partners in maintaining the security and vibrancy of “cyberspace.”

I want to join John Brennan – who is doing a great job leading the Administration’s work on this issue – in thanking all of you for being here, and for your support and participation in developing the historic strategy we’ve gathered to discuss.

Although we may approach the issue of cyber threats from different perspectives, we are united by our common goals: security, opportunity, openness, and prosperity.  We’re also bound by our shared values – and by our collective concerns.  The 21st-century threats we now face – to both our national and economic security – have no precedent.  They know no borders.  And they demand – not only our constant attention, but also a comprehensive, collaborative, and well-coordinated response.

In this new age of seamless global commerce and instant communication, we all stand to benefit – but only if the information technology being used to drive social, economic, and political progress is secure.  Unfortunately, for every technological or commercial quantum leap that we have made, criminals – and often entire international criminal syndicates – have kept pace.  Thefts of information that would have been impossible in an ink-and-paper world can now be carried out nearly undetected, from almost anywhere. 

Today, in communities worldwide, cybercrime threatens the security of our citizens and the integrity of our markets – discouraging investments and stifling innovation; and – all too often – devastating businesses and individual lives.  If we are to meet the goals and responsibilities that we share – protecting public safety and personal privacy, fostering innovation and creativity, and stimulating economic growth – we need a new, cutting-edge framework for preventing and combating cybercrime.  One that’s nimble enough to fight complex, constantly evolving threats – but also strong enough to ensure that essential freedoms are upheld.

That’s precisely why the new International Strategy for Cyberspace is so important. 

Today, with the unveiling of this strategy, we are signaling that – nearly a decade since the approval of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime – a new era of global collaboration, engagement, and vigilance has begun.

Just last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Budapest – where I spoke at an event commemorating the Convention.  Ten years ago, the U.S. was among the first nations to support this landmark agreement – which provided a path for allies across the world to address cyber threats and criminal activities, while also safeguarding civil rights. 

This agreement – and the international working groups and joint initiatives that followed it – have been effective in breaking down barriers to transnational cooperation and communication.  And, today, we’re working with our international partners to advance investigations and prosecutions like never before.  Not only do we have agents and attorneys in place across the globe, where they work alongside local law enforcement teams; we’re also able to respond to potential threats more quickly and effectively than ever.  And the results of such collaboration are clear.

In recent months, the Justice Department has announced takedowns of significant criminal groups operating from Romania, Egypt, and elsewhere that had been victimizing American businesses and citizens – including children.  We’ve also brought multiple criminal conspirators to justice for their roles in coordinated cybercrimes that, according to court documents, netted nearly 1.5 million dollars from U.S. victims.  And, just a few weeks ago, we announced an operation to disable an international criminal network that had infected more than two million computers worldwide with malicious software.  Until we stepped in – with the help of industry and security experts, as well as key international partners – this malware was allowing criminals to capture bank account numbers, user names, and other sensitive and financial information online. 

While we can all be encouraged by these and other successes, we cannot become complacent.  As President Obama has repeatedly indicated – we must, and we will, take our global fight against cyber threats to the next level.  The strategy that we are announcing today is an affirmation of that promise.  It reinforces our nation’s support for the Budapest Convention –and for efforts to establish the rule of law in cyberspace.   It also reflects our ongoing commitment to prevent terrorists and other criminals from exploiting the Internet for operational planning or financing – or for the execution of attacks.

I have every confidence that this new strategy will allow us to build on the record of progress that’s been achieved in recent years in preventing and combating cybercrimes – and in more effectively ensuring that the Internet will continue to provide a forum for open discourse, a marketplace for commercial innovation, and a safe environment for our children to communicate and learn.  But – to get where we need to be – we must bring even more government and industry partners into this work. 

No single agency, company, community, or country has access to all of the facts necessary to fully assess the nature of the threats that we face – or to adequately address them.  Only by working together can we truly understand current problems and confront emerging challenges.  Only by joining forces can we effectively fight back.

In this fight, I am proud to stand with you.  I am grateful to count you as partners.  And I look forward to what we will accomplish together in the critical days ahead.

And, now, I’m pleased to turn things over to a key leader in this work – my friend, Secretary Locke.

Updated August 18, 2015