Meld. St. 9 (2022–2023)

National control and cyber resilience to safeguard national security— Meld. St. 9 (2022–2023) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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1 Summary

The current security situation requires powerful measures to safeguard national security. Russia’s attack on neighbouring Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has created an entirely new situation in Europe. Hybrid threats affect society broadly, and safeguarding national security is increasingly demanding because today’s risk and threat picture is complex and affects all areas of society.

In recent years, there have been several examples showing the importance of both regulatory instruments and long-term perspectives in order to ensure national control and national security. The sale of the Norwegian-registered company Bergen Engines AS in 2021 is one such example. The company was a manufacturer and supplier of motors and generators to both the civilian and defence sectors in Norway and other allied countries. One of the potential buyers was a Russian-controlled company. After considerable political and media attention, and an assessment of the sale in relation to the Security Act, the transaction was stopped. This case is an example of how important it is that the state has the toolbox to uncover and intervene when necessary. In 2014, it was suggested that the state sell some of its shares in Kongsberg Gruppen, an important actor in defence production. The case triggered political debate, and the sale was not completed.

These cases illustrate the importance of national control as a means of safeguarding national security. The government believes that the state must take an active role in ensuring national control, and safeguarding Norwegian security. This report to the Storting expresses this.

Concession legislation has a long history in Norway. In addition to securing ownership and using conditions that benefit society the most, it also contributes to settlement and long-term and good management of agricultural resources. The government believes that this legislation is necessary in a long-term perspective.

A short time ago, the state purchased Meraker Brug. With an area of approximately 300,000 acres, this was one of the country’s largest privately-owned properties. The property makes up 90% of the land in Meråker municipality. Ensuring national ownership of certain properties is an important means of ensuring national control.

One of the government’s most important tasks is to safeguard national security. In this report, the government will clarify strategic direction, priorities and measures for safeguarding national and cyber security in selected areas. The government’s strategic direction is highlighted below. The measures mentioned in this report supports the strategic direction.

The government will use national ownership and control to strengthen national security

We face a more challenging risk and threat environment and we are challenged by states with security policy ambitions that do not correspond with our own national security interests. The government will strengthen efforts to increase society’s collective resilience. National control in areas that are strategically important for national security is a vital part of this. National ownership is one of several means of achieving this. The government wants to increase national control in order to contribute to increased knowledge, predictability and trust, as a basis for value creation and future investments in Norway. Means of achieving various degrees of national control must be adapted and balanced against other important societal considerations in a democratic state. These can be considerations such as a free and open society, or knowledge, business, trade, economic and national security considerations. Risk acceptance will be a part of these assessments. The principle ‘as open as possible, as secure as necessary’ emphasises these balances.

The government will facilitate an increased overview of assets that are strategically important for national security

A fundamental prerequisite for safeguarding national security is that the authorities have an overview of which assets and companies are important for national security. The Security Act has its own methodology for mapping assets. The mapping of fundamental national functions gives ministries an overview of companies and assets that have decisive and significant importance to the state’s ability to safeguard national security interests. The companies or assets that are of decisive importance are subject to the Security Act with requirements to implement preventive security measures. Mapping is complex, and shows extensive interdependencies between companies within and across sectors, and also shows that dependencies change relatively often. This is especially relevant to digital information systems and infrastructures. Targeted and effective preventive security work requires prioritising the work of updating and improving the mapping done in compliance with the provisions of the Security Act. In this work, preventive measures also have to be assessed and prioritised based on how costly and effective they will be. The government will prioritise the work of revising and updating overviews in all sectors of society.

The government will also assess how to gain a better overview of assets not covered by the Security Act, but which may still be significant to our national security. This can be physical, digital or other assets. At the same time, an overview of assets must be seen in connection with the risk and threat picture, in order to understand our own vulnerabilities and to be able to safeguard our own security. In this report, the government will present measures to further strengthen the overview of assets of importance to national security. A good overview of our assets allows the authorities to better assess relevant means of safeguarding national security, including through preventive security measures based on the Security Act, the use of other relevant legislation and national ownership.

The government will actively use regulation as a means to safeguard national security

The government sees it as important to ensure that the Security Act is adapted to the current risk and threat picture at all times, and will therefore put forward proposals for adjustments to the Act when necessary. The government also sees the need to review other relevant legislation to ensure that considerations of national security are included as an assessment criterion, where relevant. Furthermore, the government sees a need to strengthen the legislation in certain areas in order to safeguard national security, including in relation to cyber security and data centres. The government is considering putting forward a proposal for an act on cyber security to make companies accountable and ensure the implementation of national advice and recommendations. The government has also appointed a public committee to assess the need for regulations or a scheme to screen economic activity related to companies that are not subject to the Security Act.

The government will strengthen society’s resilience and robustness through increased expertise and knowledge about national security and cyber resilience

Expertise and knowledge of risks, threats, vulnerabilities and effective countermeasures are a prerequisite for being able to protect our assets against unwanted incidents. The government will highlight society’s need for expertise and facilitate long-term research of importance to national security. The government will make sure that individuals, companies and authorities are aware of the security challenges and have the necessary knowledge of how they can meet them effectively. The measures presented in this report will contribute to increase the expertise and knowledge level in society.

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