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The Political Economy of Internet Freedom

 

By Shawn Powers & Michael Jablonski

 

Contemporary discussion surrounding the role of the internet in society is dominated by words like: internet freedom, surveillance, cybersecurity, Edward Snowden and, most prolifically, cyber war. Behind the rhetoric of cyber war is an on-going state-centered battle for control of information resources.

Here, Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski conceptualize this real cyber war as the utilization of digital networks for geopolitical purposes, including covert attacks against another state's electronic systems, but also, and more importantly, the variety of ways the internet is used to further a state’s economic and military agendas. The Real Cyber War focuses on political, economic, and geopolitical factors driving internet freedom policies, arguing that efforts to create a universal internet built upon Western legal, political, and social preferences is driven by economic and geopolitical motivations rather than the humanitarian and democratic ideals that typically accompany related policy discourse.

The freedom-to-connect movement is intertwined with broader efforts to structure global society in ways that favor American and Western cultures, economies, and governments. Thought-provoking and far-seeing, The Real Cyber War reveals how internet policies and governance have emerged as critical sites of geopolitical contestation, with results certain to shape statecraft, diplomacy, and conflict in the twenty-first century.

 

Table of Contents:

 
A knowing, wide-ranging, perceptive, important, and original book. Powers and Jablonski connect disparate and significant dots; weave history, technology, and law together; and explain interrelated complex concepts imaginatively. They tell a compelling story key for any student of transnational information flows.
— Monroe Price, University of Pennsylvania
As governments, companies, civil society, and other stakeholders struggle towards a new global information and communication order in the post-Snowden world, this equally provocative and important book cuts through the Western rhetoric of ‘Internet freedom’ and draws a sobering picture of how policy-making in this space is ultimately a fight for control over information, which is largely driven by economic and geopolitical interests rather than democratic ideals and human rights.
— Urs Glasser, Harvard University
Shawn M. Powers and Michael Jablonski’s seminal new book...will help to inspire a change in course that will restore the internet to what it might become (and what many thought it was supposed to be): an engine for democracy and social and economic progress, justice, and equity.”
— Richard Hill, President of the Association for Proper internet Governance and former ITU senior official
More comprehensive than most work on global internet politics because it incorporates perspectives from a wider range of interests around the world. The treatment of China is strong, as are the examples from emerging nations.
— Vincent Mosco, Queen's University
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