Remarks State Secretary Dijkhoff, High Level Cyber Meeting, Amsterdam, May 12 2016,

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Netherlands!

It is an honour to meet so many high representatives, so many experts on cyber security, here today. The fact that you are all here, is great for our common goals:

  • Making the digital world a place that is safe;
  • A place that is free;
  • And a place that enables us to make full use of its opportunities.

I believe an open and secure internet can strengthen our democracies, our freedoms, and our human rights. I believe it is a boost for new ideas and innovation. And I believe an open and secure internet can kick start social and economic growth – making the world a better place.

Yes, this is a statement of idealism. But to achieve this, we need realism. All of our home countries have had to deal with cyber incidents over the last couple of years. That is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s reality. Such incidents make us – again – realize that we have become dependent on things that are vulnerable.

Our international payment systems; Our personal health files; And our shore protection systems, to protect the low countries against the sea; All are based on online technology. Making them potential prey to hackers, cyber-terrorists, and plain, ordinary power black-outs. This, of course, would cause huge problems in society.

Because of these risks, ladies and gentlemen, we believe cyber security is key to a safe, digital future for Europe. And I am glad that we are making meaningful progress when it comes to strengthening our defence against cyber threats. It is absolutely vital. Digital threats ignore country's borders. And that's why individual countries must help each other to deal with threats together.

Computer Emergency Response Teams play a crucial role in this. And because of the NIS directive, we can build a stronger CSIRT-network, all throughout Europe. This active network of experienced teams increases the joint capability to detect and tackle incidents. This network is a great asset. And we should be proud of this achievement.

But we can’t sit back and relax just yet. The digital world is evolving constantly. Robots, autonomous cars, drones. But with new possibilities there are new risks as well. As new technology is being developed, we learn about the potential dangers they bring along. Over the last years, we have seen some debate about the safety of self-driving cars in traffic. About the dangers of the internet of things when our homes could get hacked. And, mind you, about the risks that self-learning, intelligent robots could pose for the survival of our species. Just watch the movie ‘ex machina’. A very pretty robot, but not a very pretty result for mankind.

As governments, we cannot settle these discussions alone. The digital domain is part of all areas of modern society. And because of this, a close cooperation between public and private parties is essential. That is why I am looking forward to the signing a manifesto, supported by various private parties, on coordinated disclosure of vulnerabilities. A perfect example of international cooperation, and a strong illustration of public and private organisations taking responsibility.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s clear that we – as the Netherlands presidency – care about the digital world. We want to make full use of its opportunities. And we want to guard ourselves against its potential threats. That is why we are constantly looking forward. But what bothers me is that we always seem to talk about the future. Instead of talking with the future.

To be more specific: We talk about robots. Instead of with robots. And that is why I’ve brought someone special with me today.

Please meet my little friend: Robin.

Ministry responsible