Cavelty, Myriam, Victor Mauer, and Sai Felica Krishna-Hensel (Eds.). Power and Security in the Information Age: Investigating the Role of the State in Cyberspace.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Publication:||Name: Communication Research Trends Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture ISSN: 0144-4646|
|Issue:||Date: June, 2010 Source Volume: 29 Source Issue: 2|
|Topic:||NamedWork: Power and Security in the Information Age: Investigating the Role of the State in Cyberspace (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Cavelty, Myriam; Mauer, Victor; Krishna-Hensel, Sai Felica|
Cavelty, Myriam, Victor Mauer, and Sai Felica Krishna-Hensel
(Eds.). Power and Security in the Information Age: Investigating the
Role of the State in Cyberspace. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2007. Pp. xiv,
167. ISBN: 978-0-7546-7088-9 (hbk.) $29.99 (online: $26.99 at
In five central chapters, introduced by a lucid and far-reaching preface and a dense and ambiguous "conclusion," this co-edited, co-authored volume published in December 2007 raises the specter and the difficulty of analyzing the threats and risks in cyberspace to the relationship of the Internet with the notion of the cyberstate, particularly its ability to control information about its citizens, infiltrate enemy systems, monitor protections, and reach across borders to learn about new information. The role of countries in both overseeing and cultivating the range of information systems--financial, civil, governmental, and military--are, to understate the matter, of sufficient complexity that the best minds of the generation must address them. Despite the difficulties of a multiple edited, multiple authored text, involving professors from Switzerland, the U.S., and Ireland, this book advances the argument in important ways. It is best suited for a reference library, graduate students in political science and international relations, and less so for the undergraduate communication classroom.
In her preface, Auburn University Professor Sai Felicia Krishna-Hensel outlines the main challenges facing governments and policy professionals: (1) the Internet is being used in criminal modes; and (2) controlling criminality undermines the "freedoms" that informed the development of the web. The simultaneous tension between the free flow of information and the potential for terrorism is more than any one country can control or pretend to oversee, and as a result the need for cooperation among governments has never been greater, if mainly for their collective defense.
As chapters 1-3 outline, the debates and implications for public policy are interconnected, ideologically and technically, and challenging. While standardiza tion of security initiatives is a given "good," integration of national, regional, and international security standards is a new imperative. Yet this is a complex and complicated business, both at the technical level, as the authors point out, and at the level of defense, especially as it pertains to terrorism, as the fourth to sixth chapters of the book detail. In a post 9-11 world, scrubbing defense secrets, and legislation such as the Patriot Act and the UN Security Resolution 1373 were designed to protect against terrorist threats. As the global culture of information exchange develops, a growing culture of cybersecurity in advanced countries cannot overlook the challenges that are simultaneously growing in the developing economies of the world as well.
The volume concludes that the central security policy today is to protect society from "asymmetrical" threats that arise from the information revolution. Security requirements are increased not only by the inseparability of basic civil systems such as transportation from the military; by the globalization processes that result from the opening up of the marketplace to liberal, democratic forces; and by the free exchange of news, information, opinion, private, and public data. All of these at once stimulate cross border exchanges and cross national infrastructures, but the widespread access to telecommunications networks exacerbates the need for security requirements globally. So where does that leave the State, the Nation accustomed to dominating the news, ideologically? It must position each state in a newly aggressive posture, at once defensive, self-protective, and pointedly into surveillance. New forms of warfare, as the authors point out, have emerged from the strategic minds that transcend the marketplace, commerce, information flow, and news. The complexity of the infrastructure and concentration of information thrusts the Nation State into a role of unprecedented importance. The question, it would seem, is for the democratic order to temper the urge to self-protect with the allure of collaborative, shared risk that might diminish the threats to any one international actor. At the same time, and from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, precision militarism, based on precise information about the enemy, is the new world order that needs to be addressed by liberal democracies dedicated to the freedom of ideas, news, information exchange, science, and public opinion in the global mediated public square. It would seem that one or the other tide must prevail, but the irony and the interest of this book is to suggest that both might co-exist: one system on the surface and readily accessible; the other hidden, surreptitious, and equally available.
The volume includes a reference list and an index.
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