Recent leaks about government programs to sift through telephone and Internet data by Edward Snowden, a low-level defense contractor, may finally unleash a national debate about the adequacy of constitutional protections in the 21st century. The disclosure of classified information, combined with the ongoing WikiLeaks episode, may also begin a broader discussion about the relationship between privacy and security. more
Today both states and their challengers face a conundrum. Images of dissent and grievance circulate at lightning speed through the global media landscape, fueling demands for change and even revolution. Furthermore they encourage populations to expect governments to fall in response to people power in ever-contracting timeframes. States are perplexed at how rapidly calls for change can spread through social networks. Their challengers, too, are concerned: They face a loss of control and message coherence. more
A lot has changed since the Zapatista movement emerged in the mid-1990s in southern Mexico to become a symbol of the fight for global justice. As outdated as the imagery of the Zapatistas might look to our retrained eyes, it was one of the first global manifestations of the tectonic shift caused by new communication technologies. The transformations unleashed then are still shaping the way protest movements arise, aided by evolutions in the networks through which they are diffused. more
In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech condemning government censorship, calling for greater Internet freedom and reiterating that freedom of expression was a vital U.S. value. But during the past two weeks, as issues of press censorship in China have become front-page news, the State Department has remained noticeably silent, even as that censorship has impacted the U.S. media. more
Technology has shattered any expectation of official control over the portrayal of armed conflict. Battlefields are now populated not only by news agencies from a variety of nations, but also by individuals able to capture and transmit images for use in pressuring governments. From this point on, most military operations will be "live cast." But policymakers and military leaders have not yet adjusted. more
As China unveils its next generation of leaders, the experience of the past decade shows a party-state struggling to adapt to a fast-changing media landscape. Under President Hu Jintao, official discourse on the media shifted, with the term “leading" replacing “guiding” when it came to public opinion. The change represents a move away from suppressing information to “spinning” it. more
A group of 10,000 demonstrators has surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong to protest a controversial new class being introduced in schools this fall. The Hong Kong government claims it simply wants to boost students’ knowledge of and attachment to China. But the protesters argue the course is just the latest example of Beijing’s attempts to control political discourse in the city.
Much digital ink has been spilled over how cyber and unmanned technologies are changing the nature of war, allowing it to be fought more secretly, more subversively and with greater discretion. In fact, it is precisely the increasing visibility of ordinary warfare due to communications technology that is driving U.S. efforts to redefine the rules of engagement. more
Google's recent run-ins with the People's Republic of China are part of an emerging trend in world politics: the growing political importance of the corporate giants that own and operate cyberspace. The decisions these companies take for commercial reasons can end up having political consequences. And even as they flex their political muscles, the corporate behemoths that already control huge swaths of cyberspace are being deputized by governments with more-expansive policing responsibilities. more
In the annals of "strange bedfellow" political encounters, the recent broadcast in which WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange interviewed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stands out as a remarkable episode. On closer examination, however, the debut episode of Assange's show, "The World Tomorrow," on the Kremlin-funded RT network, which featured Nasrallah as its first guest, in fact makes a lot of sense.
Invisible Children achieved its goal of raising awareness about Joseph Kony and the LRA, but will that be enough?
With Twitter revolutions, state-sponsored hacking and the Stuxnet virus driving rapid change in the cyber-age battlefield, this World Politics Review special report examines the state of cyber power through articles published in the past year.
China's social contract revolves around the Communist Party delivering the benefits of modernization to the country's citizenry, and not, as Western observers might hope, around the transition to multi-party democracy. Consequently, technocratic failure presents the greatest risk to the party's domestic credibility, as highlighted by the ongoing wave of public anger over the Wenzhou high-speed rail crash.
Few political leaders in power today have harnessed the power of the media as effectively as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. From the moment he took office, Chávez has used every available communications resource to present himself, his ideology and his policies directly to the public. Now, as his rule runs up against serious health problems, Chávez has found that social media is a most useful tool. more
I had the pleasure of participating in France 24's panel discussion program, The World This Week, last Friday. more
In an email interview, Patricia K. McCormick, an expert in
developing-country telecommunications policy at Wayne State University,
discussed Africa's telecommunications infrastructure.
The Stuxnet computer worm, WikiLeaks and the social-media-facilitated
revolutions of the Arab Spring have already provided ample reason
for a high-level U.S. policy on cyber issues. Now the killing of Osama bin
Laden has provided an opening for a broader strategic dialogue in Washington, one that includes cyberspace in its proper context. This policy discussion has been a long time
Enhanced connectivity in international systems is creating new sources of comparative advantage for nations. But even as horizontal global networks are proliferating, China maintains a rigidly vertical hierarchy of information. This exceptionalism, increasingly apparent throughout China's domestic and foreign policy, is emerging as a fundamental obstacle to the country's continued international rise. more
Five months after WikiLeaks broke the latch on its treasure trove and
started scattering the contents across the globe, the impact has proven
far different than what Washington feared. A look at what WikiLeaks has
wrought in one region in particular, Latin America, shows that more than
harming or even embarrassing the U.S., the leaked documents have
embarrassed politicians in other countries.
From an intelligence standpoint, we already know way too much about the operation that led to bin Laden's death. more
Although events in the Middle East confirm that the power of an angry crowd in a public square remains potent, the Internet is fast becoming the medium of choice for spreading political ideas. The number of global Internet users has doubled during the past five years, and now exceeds 2 billion people. In response, governments worldwide are seeking new means to influence and often control this discourse. more