Europe is to get its own NSA - almost. The European Commission today unveiled plans for a European Network and Information Security Agency, to "serve as a centre of competence where both Member States and EU Institutions can seek advice on matters relating to cyber security."
So it's purely an advisory thing, then? Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. The Agency "will launch co-operation initiatives between different actors in the information security field, e.g. to support the development of secure e-business." Which is not the e.g. that was springing to our lips unprompted. So it's not about national security issues and spooks, then? Well, Lord Copper...
The secure functioning of networks and information systems "has become a key concern, especially in the aftermath of the 11th September events..." (there you go) "...for everybody: citizens, businesses and public administrations... From an EU-policy perspective the activities related to network and information security are interrelated with the legal framework on telecommunications, data protection and cyber-crime.
"Governments see a widening responsibility for society and are increasingly making efforts to improve security on their territory. Member States are however in different stages of their work and the approaches vary. Today there is no systematic cross-border co-operation on network and information security between Member States, although security issues cannot be an isolated issue for only one country."
So actually it's not a purely advisory thing as such, nor is it nothing to do with national security and spooks. The Agency will certainly groom itself for an advisory role initially, but as it's a component of the Commission's eEurope plans (homepage here) it will inevitably grow into something larger. The eEurope 2002 Action plan is available here.
This seems approximately on track, although we're not sure of the whereabouts of the "report on technologies and applications of electronic and biometric authentication" that was mooted for the end of 2002. The Agency itself springs from the Commission's decision to set up a Cyber Security Task Force last year.
Aside from pulling together Europe's act on security the Agency will also "provide support for the EU contacts with relevant parties in third countries." One possible upside; it proposes to help in "ensuring interoperabilityof information security functions," and as you note from the report card one of the intended actions is to "Promote the development and deployment of open source software security platforms for effective 'plug and play'." Second to last, just above "Develop a co-ordinated European approach to cybercrime." ®