Steven Aftergood weighs up an analysis of the fierce conflict destabilizing the Internet.
The Internet is under attack, and not just by hackers, thieves and spies. As Alexander Klimburg reports in The Darkening Web, governments that insist on their own primacy are increasingly assaulting the idea of this digitized landscape as a transnational commons. Cyberspace is becoming a war zone in a new era of ideological combat.
Klimburg — director of cyber policy at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in the Netherlands — sees the combatants as belonging to two groups. The forces of the ‘free Internet’ favour the unconstrained flow of information, independent of national borders or cultural barriers. The ‘cybersovereignty’ camp, led by Russia and China, demands greater government control of the Internet and of information. To sustain its massive censorship operation, China’s ‘Great Firewall’ employs more people than serve in the country’s armed forces.