The next meeting of the IRN will take place on Wednesday Oct 17 at 4:00pm in rm 302 at the Munk School (1 Devonshire Pl). Lennart Maschmeyer, a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto, will be presenting his research.
Civil Society and Cybersecurity: Hung out to Dry by Privatization, Security Competition, and Market Failures
The Internet was supposed to diffuse sovereignty, challenge states and empower transnational civil society to transform world politics, transcending security competition. Today authoritarianism is resurging, cyberspace is increasingly contested and civil society is facing a barrage of digital threats. Why? This article argues that rather than ending security competition, ICTs have enabled it to go transnational. The transnationalization of security competition has provided new opportunities for states to project power and control missed by governance scholars focusing on the promise of a post-national world. ICTs have facilitated a decoupling of the means of power from territorial control, enabling the transnational projection of power and enabling a commodification of security as private actors step in to fill the void created by states’ inability to provide security in the traditional sense. Security is being commodified, producing market failures and externalities that exacerbate the precarious situation of vulnerable civil society organization (CSOs). Lacking resources and expertise, CSOs have insufficient information on threats, cannot afford advanced defenses yet face increasingly advanced and effective digital threats. To test these assumptions, the article formulates a set of hypotheses and tests them against the available evidence on targeted digital threats. It contributes an original dataset built from all available public reporting by security vendors and independent research centers. This analysis identifies the limits of commercial reporting as a data source and triangulates the threat landscape faced by CSOs based on aggregate data.