Balancing security and privacy lie at the heart of modern governance. Estonia was the first EU member state to create a data Embassy – or rather “Noah’s Ark” – in Luxembourg that would allow the country to continue to exist in exile, should it ever be occupied, or “reboot” should it ever sustain a cyberattack. The same country has a simple rule: “the state cannot ask for data it already has”, in an almost religious pledge to cutting red tape. On the other side of the world, China has introduced a system of social rating, which literally rates the social behaviour of the citizen and can even be linked to creditworthiness. But this infringement of privacy also has benefits: China has been more successful than many Western states in controlling the spread of the Coronavirus, utilising its mass data mining capabilities. In sum, it is not merely corporate actors that present citizens with the “data for convenience” dilemma.
Technological developments call for a rethink of the private and the public sphere. As online public and corporate governance move deeper into biological and banking data, the values underpinning the balance between “security or citizenship” is the modern equivalent of the “butter or guns” conundrum. Data is like money. It has value. Ownership of this data has always been key to citizenship but is now emerging as a question defining 21st-century regimes. Authoritarianism, dictatorship, and democracy “brands” must be re-examined. Cyberactivism, for instance, brings to the fore traditional security questions: who is a terrorist, a traitor or a “freedom fighter”?
Continue reading The territorialisation of the Internet – Jan 22