Information Technology’s Challenges to Global Governance

Information Technology’s Challenges to Global Governance

In general, practitioners of international politics, and those charged with developing and executing governments' foreign policies, have certain expectations regarding the behavior of the states comprising the international system. Indeed, these expectations reflect both rules commonly observed by state governments -- if all too often in the breach -- as well as a common understanding of the prerogatives that obtain to governments, as opposed to individuals and others not disposed of governmental authority.

But do these expectations still hold and, if so, are they realistic today? Is modern information technology, and the global information infrastructure it enables, changing what we can expect of actors in the international political system? Is it creating new actors? Does it give these new actors prerogatives accorded traditionally to national governments and, if so, is it doing so at the expense of those governments? Does communication technology present new issues of policy and international security with which governments need to be concerned? What should they do?

A general survey of these questions is perhaps the most that we can offer at present, since specific answers and prescriptions have yet to fully emerge. At the same time, we have a responsibility, too long ignored, to define national and international security interests in cyberspace and to develop the tools to pursue them. And such a survey is necessary if we are to begin to do that.

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