Student Spotlight

Bindu Chib

Computer Tech Law Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London

Class of 2021

“If a cyber weapons race is afoot or comes to be, surely it will be necessary to establish controls internationally.”

A deeply experienced law professor and practitioner, Bindu looked at the welter of challenges and opportunities swirling around the increasingly digital and interconnected 21st century and determined she needed to understand it all better. “With the issues of privacy versus surveillance, data localization versus data globalization, growing complexity of cyber security, IoT, cloud, etc., so at the forefront, I felt the need to spend an intense year educating myself further – reading, thinking and deliberating about these issues.” 

Bindu has taught at Queen Mary University of London, a University of London college for many years, and has practiced law in India, the UK, and Hong Kong. Her current brief includes teaching law in a joint program with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. That experience gave her a particularly broad perspective to bring to the MSCRS program.

The program fit neatly with her ambition to steep herself in current issues in her field, from exploring the evolving regulatory and governance environment for cybersecurity, to how to balance the many developing capabilities of technology while managing the downsides. Especially intriguing, she says, was the opportunity to explore legal developments in the US specifically. “It is the crucible for so much of the technology, and as the world’s largest economy with so much at stake, cybersecurity has received a great deal of attention and thought. The US has also been at the forefront in attributing cyber attacks to nation states and takes a lead in prosecuting and extraditing the offenders, where possible, to stand trial in the US.”

Cybersecurity is now recognized as the greatest external threat to US security, and to that of other nations as well. But other emerging technologies are similarly dangerous, Bindu points out. “AI/machine learning, quantum computing, and space technologies are seen as central to national security, and agreements on their development and deployment will be required as time goes by. If a cyber weapons race is afoot or comes to be, surely it will be necessary to establish controls internationally.”

Efforts are under way to develop international norms, such as the Tallinn Manual, which discusses how international law would apply to cyber operations or conflict. Another undertaking, The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace “norm package,” promotes responsible behavior in cyberspace. China or Russia are not part of either dialogue though, “It will be really tough to negotiate international agreements. But these efforts will surely commence, given their high stakes and rising geopolitical tensions. Enforcement could take the form of sanction, imperfect though it may be.”

The challenge for any country is to stay ahead of the rapidly evolving threats and then of course to mandate a set of rules that stays relevant.  “What’s good to see in the US is the relative openness of the effort, the open NIST cybersecurity standards, the effort to pool information, the regulators stepping up. This is happening in the UK and in the EU member states as well.”

Among other major nations, China has a fairly extensive cybersecurity law and accompanying regulations, Bindu points out, “but there are no innovations there. There are reporting requirements, certification requirements, adopting best practices, data breach reporting requirements, etc. Quite comprehensive.” As a country, China appears to be less targeted by cyber attackers, she says. “Or at least, not much gets reported.”