An Open Letter on the Cyber Resilience Act: Addressing Concerns and Proposing Alternatives for a Secure Digital Future

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Cyber Resilience Act

The Cyber Resilience Act is a proposed regulation within the European Union that seeks to bolster cybersecurity requirements for digital products, both hardware and software. The Act aims to address the growing concerns of cyberattacks and vulnerabilities within the digital landscape, which have led to an estimated global annual cost of cybercrime of €5.5 trillion by 2021. By enforcing stricter cybersecurity measures, the Cyber Resilience Act strives to ensure a higher level of security for consumers and businesses alike.

The main objectives of the Cyber Resilience Act are to:

  • Create conditions for the development of secure products with digital elements by ensuring that hardware and software products have fewer vulnerabilities and that manufacturers prioritize security throughout a product’s life cycle.
  • Enable users to consider cybersecurity factors when selecting and using products with digital elements.

To achieve these objectives, the Act proposes four specific goals:

  • Improve the security of products with digital elements during design, development, and throughout their life cycle.
  • Establish a coherent cybersecurity framework, facilitating compliance for hardware and software producers.
  • Enhance the transparency of security properties of products with digital elements.
  • Empower businesses and consumers to use products with digital elements securely.

While the Cyber Resilience Act has the potential to greatly improve the overall security of digital products within the EU, it is essential to balance these regulations with innovation, competitiveness, and privacy rights. As the proposal moves forward, it will be crucial to consider alternative measures and potential conflicts with existing European laws to create a well-rounded and effective approach to cybersecurity.

As the Cyber Resilience Act aims to strengthen cybersecurity measures across the European Union, it is crucial to examine potential risks and challenges that may arise from its implementation. In this article, we will delve into some of the concerns associated with the Act and provide an overview of an open letter that proposes alternative measures to achieve the desired goals while mitigating the potential drawbacks.

Potential Risks:

  • Regulatory Burden: The proposed Act could impose excessive regulatory requirements on businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), increasing compliance costs and hindering innovation.
  • International Compatibility: Stricter cybersecurity regulations may create compatibility issues with international regulations, leading to potential trade barriers and negatively affecting the competitiveness of EU-based businesses.
  • Privacy Concerns: The enforcement of the Act may inadvertently result in a conflict with existing EU privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), if the balance between security and privacy is not adequately maintained.

Considering the potential risks associated with the Cyber Resilience Act, an open letter has been drafted to propose alternative measures that aim to achieve the same objectives while addressing these concerns. The open letter outlines a series of recommendations based on voluntary industry standards, public-private partnerships, risk-based approaches, and international cooperation, as well as references to relevant European laws and directives.

In the upcoming sections of this article, we will present the open letter in its entirety, providing a comprehensive overview of the proposed alternatives and their potential benefits. By exploring these alternative measures, we hope to encourage a well-rounded and effective approach to enhancing cybersecurity within the European Union, while fostering innovation, competitiveness, and protecting privacy rights.

Stefano Ciccarelli

Subject: Proposal for Alternative Measures to the EU Cyber Resilience Act

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to formally propose alternative measures to the proposed EU Cyber Resilience Act, which aims to strengthen cybersecurity requirements for products with digital elements. While the Act’s objectives are commendable, I believe there are alternative approaches that can achieve similar results while mitigating potential risks and challenges associated with the enforcement of the Act.

It is worth noting that cybercrime was estimated to cost the global economy €5.5 trillion annually by 2021. The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) reported that in 2020, 304 significant cyber incidents occurred, a 47% increase compared to the previous year. These statistics underscore the need for effective cybersecurity measures. However, implementing the Act without considering its potential impact on businesses, innovation, and international compatibility could result in unintended consequences.

The proposed alternatives aim to improve cybersecurity without imposing excessive regulatory burden on businesses, hindering innovation, or creating compatibility issues with international regulations. These alternatives are based on the principles of voluntary industry standards, public-private partnerships, risk-based approaches, and international cooperation, as well as references to relevant European laws and directives:

Voluntary Industry Standards: Encourage the development and adoption of voluntary industry standards and best practices for cybersecurity, in line with the principles set forth in the NIS Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/1148) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This market-driven approach incentivizes businesses to adopt secure practices without the need for strict regulation, fostering innovation and competitiveness.

Public-Private Partnerships: Foster collaboration between the public and private sectors through information sharing, resource allocation, and expertise exchange on cybersecurity threats and solutions, as encouraged by the European Commission’s Cybersecurity Strategy. This approach promotes innovative solutions and knowledge sharing, improving overall security.

Education and Awareness Campaigns: Launch public awareness and education campaigns, in cooperation with initiatives like the European Cybersecurity Month, to inform consumers about cybersecurity issues, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding the security of the products they use.

Incentives for Secure Development: Offer financial incentives or recognition programs, such as those under the Horizon Europe framework, to encourage businesses to invest in secure design and development processes.

Risk-based Approach: Implement a risk-based approach to regulation, in line with the guidelines provided by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), that focuses on the most significant threats and vulnerabilities, tailoring requirements to different industries and product types.

International Cooperation: Strengthen international cooperation and coordination on cybersecurity issues, as emphasized in the EU Cybersecurity Strategy, by sharing information, resources, and expertise with other countries, promoting harmonization of regulations and reducing potential trade barriers.

Cybersecurity Certification Schemes: Develop and promote voluntary cybersecurity certification schemes, as envisioned in the EU Cybersecurity Act (Regulation (EU) 2019/881), that demonstrate a company’s commitment to cybersecurity best practices, providing consumers with more information about product security and helping businesses differentiate themselves in the market.

Support for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs): Offer targeted support to SMEs, such as training, resources, and financial assistance through programs like the Digital Innovation Hubs, to help them improve their cybersecurity practices and comply with any necessary regulations.

These alternatives can be implemented individually or in combination, depending on the specific needs and challenges of the digital market. I believe that these measures will strike a balance between enhancing cybersecurity, fostering innovation, and ensuring a competitive market landscape.

I urge you to consider these alternative measures as an effective means of addressing the cybersecurity concerns currently targeted by the Cyber Resilience Act. In addition, I would like to draw your attention to three European laws that could potentially conflict with the proposed Act, further highlighting the need for a balanced and well-considered approach to regulation:

I) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679): The GDPR focuses on protecting the personal data and privacy of EU citizens. Implementing the Cyber Resilience Act without a proper balance between security and privacy could potentially conflict with the GDPR’s principles, as stricter cybersecurity measures may require increased data collection and monitoring, raising privacy concerns among consumers.

II) ePrivacy Directive (Directive 2002/58/EC): The ePrivacy Directive, which is currently under revision, aims to protect the privacy of electronic communications. If the Cyber Resilience Act does not adequately address privacy concerns when mandating increased monitoring and data collection, it could conflict with the provisions of the ePrivacy Directive, thereby creating legal ambiguities and potential compliance issues for businesses.

III) Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Directive (EU) 2019/790): This Directive aims to harmonize copyright law within the EU, including provisions related to the use of protected content by online service providers. A central cybersecurity system that scans open-source code could potentially access sensitive or proprietary information, raising intellectual property concerns and potentially conflicting with the objectives of this Directive.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend that you consider the alternative measures proposed in this document as a more balanced and effective approach to enhancing cybersecurity in the EU while minimizing potential conflicts with existing European laws and directives, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679), the ePrivacy Directive (Directive 2002/58/EC), and the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (Directive (EU) 2019/790). The proposed alternatives take into account the need for innovation, competitiveness, and respect for privacy rights, in line with the principles of the European Union.

Additionally, it is important to address the potential risks associated with removing pseudonymous or anonymous mechanisms from the open-source ecosystem. While transparency and accountability are essential, maintaining a degree of anonymity can help protect democratic values by allowing the development of countermeasures against cyber mass surveillance and facilitating anonymous communication channels that reduce the risk of political prosecution. Overreaching regulations that undermine these mechanisms could potentially conflict with European laws and fundamental rights, such as those enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which guarantees the right to privacy and the freedom of expression.

By preserving the ability of developers and users to remain anonymous or pseudonymous, we can ensure that the open-source ecosystem continues to foster innovation, collaboration, and the free flow of information, while also providing a safe space for individuals to express their ideas and develop solutions to protect privacy and civil liberties.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Stefano Ciccarelli

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