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Four internets: the geopolitics of digital governance

Four internets: the geopolitics of digital governance
Four internets: the geopolitics of digital governance
The internet — a fragile construction of hardware, software, standards and databases — is run by an ever-expanding range of private and public actors constrained only by voluntary protocols and subject to political pressure. The authors describe four emerging views of how best to govern the internet, each playing a geopolitical role and championed at the national level. The first, the Silicon Valley open internet, reflects the idealism of the internet’s creators, who engineered it to be open, with transparent standards and portable, extensible and interoperable data and software, and also to scale as it grew. European nations, and the European Commission, champion a second model — a “bourgeois” internet, where trolling and bad behaviour are minimized and privacy protected, possibly at the cost of innovation. China and many other nations see a third, authoritarian internet, where surveillance and identification technologies help ensure social cohesion and security. The fourth and more commercial view, characteristic of the US Republicans in Washington, DC, understands online resources as private property, whose owners can monetize them and seek market rates for their use. The competition to establish which, if any, of the four internets will prevail (however temporarily) is likely to be strong, and not always focused on win-wins. Further, the internet’s openness is a vulnerability that can be exploited for misinformation or hacking, an opportunity taken by Russia, Iran and North Korea, among others. The authors argue we need to be prepared for the internet that we know to evolve unpredictably, and work to ensure that it remains beneficial for humankind.
Web Science, Internet governance, geopolitics, Security, Privacy, Authoritarianism, openness
The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)/Chatham House
O'hara, Kieron
0a64a4b1-efb5-45d1-a4c2-77783f18f0c4
Hall, Wendy
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O'hara, Kieron
0a64a4b1-efb5-45d1-a4c2-77783f18f0c4
Hall, Wendy
11f7f8db-854c-4481-b1ae-721a51d8790c

O'hara, Kieron and Hall, Wendy (2018) Four internets: the geopolitics of digital governance (CIGI Papers, 206) The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)/Chatham House 28pp.

Record type: Monograph (Project Report)

Abstract

The internet — a fragile construction of hardware, software, standards and databases — is run by an ever-expanding range of private and public actors constrained only by voluntary protocols and subject to political pressure. The authors describe four emerging views of how best to govern the internet, each playing a geopolitical role and championed at the national level. The first, the Silicon Valley open internet, reflects the idealism of the internet’s creators, who engineered it to be open, with transparent standards and portable, extensible and interoperable data and software, and also to scale as it grew. European nations, and the European Commission, champion a second model — a “bourgeois” internet, where trolling and bad behaviour are minimized and privacy protected, possibly at the cost of innovation. China and many other nations see a third, authoritarian internet, where surveillance and identification technologies help ensure social cohesion and security. The fourth and more commercial view, characteristic of the US Republicans in Washington, DC, understands online resources as private property, whose owners can monetize them and seek market rates for their use. The competition to establish which, if any, of the four internets will prevail (however temporarily) is likely to be strong, and not always focused on win-wins. Further, the internet’s openness is a vulnerability that can be exploited for misinformation or hacking, an opportunity taken by Russia, Iran and North Korea, among others. The authors argue we need to be prepared for the internet that we know to evolve unpredictably, and work to ensure that it remains beneficial for humankind.

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More information

Published date: 7 December 2018
Keywords: Web Science, Internet governance, geopolitics, Security, Privacy, Authoritarianism, openness

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427838
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427838
PURE UUID: efc74f4d-2f7f-4c0a-88af-4601f84f9253
ORCID for Kieron O'hara: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9051-4456
ORCID for Wendy Hall: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4327-7811

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 30 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 09 May 2020 00:27

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