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The Real Cyber War

The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Real Cyber War
    Book Description:

    Contemporary discussion surrounding the role of the internet in society is dominated by words like: internet freedom, surveillance, cybersecurity, Edward Snowden and, most prolifically, cyber war. Behind the rhetoric of cyber war is an on-going state-centered battle for control of information resources. Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski conceptualize this real cyber war as the utilization of digital networks for geopolitical purposes, including covert attacks against another state's electronic systems, but also, and more importantly, the variety of ways the internet is used to further a state’s economic and military agendas. Moving beyond debates on the democratic value of new and emerging information technologies, The Real Cyber War focuses on political, economic, and geopolitical factors driving internet freedom policies, in particular the U.S. State Department's emerging doctrine in support of a universal freedom to connect. They argue that efforts to create a universal internet built upon Western legal, political, and social preferences is driven by economic and geopolitical motivations rather than the humanitarian and democratic ideals that typically accompany related policy discourse. In fact, the freedom-to-connect movement is intertwined with broader efforts to structure global society in ways that favor American and Western cultures, economies, and governments. Thought-provoking and far-seeing, The Real Cyber War reveals how internet policies and governance have emerged as critical sites of geopolitical contestation, with results certain to shape statecraft, diplomacy, and conflict in the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09710-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Geopolitics and the Internet
    (pp. 1-26)

    Contemporary discussion and academic inquiry surrounding the role of the internet in society are dominated by words such as internet freedom, surveillance, cybersecurity, Edward Snowden, and, most prolifically, cyber war. Since introducing the world to the term in 2001,¹ John Arquilla has become increasingly vocal that “cyberwar is here, and it is here to stay.”² Arquilla’s assertion is correct, but for the wrong reasons. For him and many others, the term refers to the extension of military strategy and conflict into the realm of electronic networks or, more simply, to the use of the internet for various forms of covert,...

  6. 1 Information Freedom and U.S. Foreign Policy: A History
    (pp. 27-49)

    During the Industrial Revolution the new American nation supplemented native inventiveness with imported information allowing development of industrial systems. Technological artifacts acquired by the United States were useless without acquisition of knowledge necessary to assemble or use machines. Britain protected its industrial hegemony by restricting the outflow of information to protect comparative economic advantages from technology that it invented or refined. The United States adopted an identical policy. The realization that the flow of information encouraged innovation forced policymakers to consider the implications of controlling that flow. The result was that a contradictory view of information became fundamental to U.S....

  7. 2 The Information-Industrial Complex
    (pp. 50-73)

    Daniel Guerin introduced the concept of a “military-industrial complex” in 1936 to refer to a “coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs.”¹ The MIC emerged as a result of the Great Depression and World War II—in short, crises demanded that the government intervene into the marketplace by creating jobs and pushing innovation in areas under threat from international competitors. Some seventy years later, the transition from an economy based on heavy industry toward...

  8. 3 Google, Information, and Power
    (pp. 74-98)

    Central to the internet-freedom movement, and lending legitimacy to the State Department’s freedom-to-connect narrative, is Google. In many ways, Google is on the front lines of the cyber war, fighting for increased openness and connectivity around the world, including North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Burma. Its work abroad, including helping to expand connectivity in parts of the developing world and lobbying against censorship in authoritarian countries, closely coincides with the State Department’s freedom-to-connect agenda. Collaboration between the two was confirmed by a former senior State Department official in an email published by Wikileaks: “Google is getting WH [White House] and...

  9. 4 The Economics of Internet Connectivity
    (pp. 99-128)

    Robust debate continues regarding the potential for “connective technologies” to cause transformative democratic change or reinforce existing autocratic institutions via enhanced surveillance and endless, mindless entertainment for their citizens. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. government would announce and implement a new foreign policy doctrine based on such a contested theoretical framework. There is, however, another rationale that policymakers, industry, and civil society actors all agree on: the global, deregulated internet is good business for the American economy.

    At a basic level, U.S. internet policy can be boiled down to getting as many people using the network of networks...

  10. 5 The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance
    (pp. 129-154)

    Multistakeholderism—the coordination of private-sector and nonprofit actors with government authorities—has become central to debates over internet governance since 2003, when the term emerged during WSIS and was formalized in the 2005 Tunis Agenda. The United States, in particular, has adopted the discourse of multistakeholderism as its starting point for any discussion over internet governance. According to Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E.Strickling, “The steadfast policy of the U.S. government has been to promote these values of inclusion and participation through our support for the multistakeholder process.”¹ While pleasing to the ear, very little research...

  11. 6 Toward Information Sovereignty
    (pp. 155-179)

    Globalization has not been good to the modern nation-state. Global trade requires transnational regimes of governance that make decisions that were previously the domain of sovereign states. Trade has increased global environmental degradation and enhanced its visibility, requiring states to again share decision-making responsibilities, at least if they hope to survive.

    Transnational media challenge the state’s ability to control information flows, a critical means through which the nation has connected to the state, providing it legitimacy to govern. Alec Ross, the State Department’s senior advisor for innovation, puts it another way: “The 21st century is a terrible time to be...

  12. 7 Internet Freedom in a Surveillance Society
    (pp. 180-202)

    This chapter explores the tension between the internet-freedom movement and cybersecurity policy. Central to this tension is the question of anonymity, whether or not it is possible to connect behaviors or material online to the responsible person. On the one hand, anonymity is central to freedom online, for online speech in particular. Political dissidents depend on anonymous browsing and posting capabilities to express oppositional views free from government repression. On the other hand, anonymity enables criminal behavior online, ranging from intellectual property theft to whole-scale cyber warfare.

    We begin by tracing the specific vision of internet freedom proposed by Secretary...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 203-208)

    Few dispute the centrality of information to modern economies and governance. What is contested, however, is the legitimacy of institutions governing global information flows and the appropriate scope of state authority in managing information within its sovereign borders. The real cyber war is thus a competition among different political economies of the information society.

    Discourses of “internet freedom,” most prominently articulated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, serve to legitimize a particular political economy of globalism. America’s “free flow” doctrine is a strategic vision to legitimize a specific geopolitical agenda of networking the world in ways that disproportionally benefit...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 209-260)
  15. Index
    (pp. 261-270)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-274)