Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the GCCS 2015

Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the GCCS in The Hague on 16 April 2015.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Netherlands and welcome to The Hague.

Bill Gates once said, ‘The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.’ It’s a fitting metaphor. The town square is where we meet and talk to each other, and buy and sell. But there are also cheats and pickpockets about.

The internet makes the global local: the entire world is a mouse-click away. There are plenty of opportunities, but there are threats too. And they are harder to manage than the dangers you find in the average town square. Because the global town square is virtual. It’s enormous. And it’s getting bigger. In 1992 there were a million internet users. Today it’s three billion and counting. The internet has changed our entire way of life. Information, media, our social contacts and the economy – we rely on the World Wide Web for all of this now. In many ways, that’s a good thing. But it also brings new forms of dependency and new security risks. Take cybercrime: the likely annual cost of cybercrime to the global economy is more than 400 billion dollars.

So there is a lot at stake. We need to invest in security so that legitimate users will benefit and criminals will think twice. And we want to fully realise the internet’s innovative and economic potential. So I’m delighted that so many of you have come to The Hague. And I’m glad to see that you represent the full spectrum of interests, from countries and businesses to civil society organisations. Because we all need to work together as partners to make sure the internet remains free, open and secure.

This is an important topic for the Netherlands. Because the Netherlands is an internet hub and a gateway to the Web. We have the fastest internet connections in the world.

We have a flourishing creative industry, with lots of ICT talent, app developers and start-ups. We are also home to companies like Google and Huawei, which have offices and investments in our country.

We have something worth defending. So the Netherlands will continue investing in our internet infrastructure, knowledge infrastructure, cyber security and cyber diplomacy.

I want to emphasise that. Not least in the light of our candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2017 to 2018 period.

The internet works by connecting people, businesses and countries. We want to safeguard that connectivity and we have to do that by working together. That is what this conference is all about.

For the next two days, you will be focusing on the dilemmas of cyberspace. The internet raises questions that aren’t always easy to answer. Security versus privacy. Economic opportunities versus cyber security. Protecting internet freedom versus safeguarding national security. And opinions differ on these important issues. So there is plenty to talk about in the next two days. And we hope to come up with specific agreements and solutions. For example, we will look at the scope for norms of state conduct in cyberspace.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The internet offers countless opportunities in every area, including economic development. But its reliability must be beyond doubt. We want our global town square to be vibrant and to flourish. We want it to be a place where people feel safe. That is the goal of the GCCS and that is why you have come to The Hague. I wish you a successful conference.

Thank you.