30 Jun 2022

Case study: Civil society engagement in the development of Chile’s NCS

By Derechos Digitales

This case study is an extract from National Cybersecurity Strategies: Lessons Learned and Reflections from the Americas and Other Regions, a joint report by GPD and the Cybersecurity Program of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) of the Organization of American States (OAS), published in 2022. 


In 2014, Michelle Bachelet, then president of Chile, proposed creating a national cybersecurity policy, a term often used interchangeably with “national cybersecurity strategy.”

A participatory process was designed, which contemplated the participation of different stakeholders and was led by a group created especially for this purpose in April 2015: the Inter-ministerial Committee on Cybersecurity (CICS). Stakeholders would be active participants, and their views effectively helped shape the policy.

The first stage of this collaborative process was the submission of the document entitled Bases for a National Cybersecurity Policy, published in March 2015 jointly by the Ministries of the Interior and Defense. The document was published to establish the need for a national policy, define its theoretical framework, and lay out the full process agenda. The CICS invited select stakeholders to different meetings to provide feedback on topics covered in the document, propose additions, and solve questions. After these meetings, the CICS started drafting the National Cybersecurity Policy (NCSP), taking into consideration the feedback received. A first draft of the NCSP was published in February 2016 and submitted for public consultation between 29 February and 18 March 2016, when written comments to the policy draft were received.

This stage saw contributions from 43 entities, a considerable number in comparison to other processes of cyber policy. From the respondents, four were representatives of academia, three from the technical community, seventeen from the private sector, eight from public agencies, seven from civil society organizations, and four unaffiliated individuals. As expected, the comments from each stakeholder focused mainly on their area of interest.

However, as a result, different visions and concerns were incorporated into the document. This diversity of perspectives contributed to a broad acceptance of the document, as well as its endurance. Even though it was an opposition government, the government that succeeded Michelle Bachelet’s continued with the implementation of this NCSP as if it were its own, without trying to modify it, thus demonstrating a successful case of public policymaking.

It is important to note that although this was not the first policy draft open to different forms of stakeholder participation, it was one where participation was perceived as useful and effective by the same stakeholders. The leading role by the CICS was fundamental, by directly seeking participation from different stakeholders and engaging in efforts to facilitate participation of stakeholders located outside the capital. This effort was perceived and recognized by the participants, who were able to see their contributions reflected in the final version of the NCSP.

A comparison between the Bases document, the draft policy, and the final PNCS shows that changes were indeed made based on the feedback provided in the consultation. The process of elaboration of the Chilean NCSP demonstrates the importance of considering the voices of different actors in the elaboration of public policies. The wider acceptance of its outcomes and the recognition of the process itself are valuable examples of open and participatory policymaking. Whether the policy is brought to completion within its projected timeframe (2017 to 2022) remains to be seen, but the template for a new process is already set.