The Information Age/Globalization

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What is globalization and how is it related to the ICT revolution?[edit | edit source]

Technological development, from better transportation and carrier services to the telephone and mass media, has created a smaller, more integrated world. Now, the ICT revolution is making the world even smaller and more integrated. Communications, trade and employment, personal and political transactions are now occurring on a global scale, in real time, ignoring boundaries between states.

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz defines globalization as

…the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world which has been brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flows of goods, services, capital, knowledge, and (to a lesser extent) people across borders. [50]

It is important to underscore that globalization is not just an economic phenomenon. It affects all aspects of life.

At least four factors have contributed to globalization: (1) technological change, particularly the ICT revolution; (2) the spread of market-based systems; (3) domestic politics—pro-globalization forces are more politically significant; and (4) inter-state rivalries. [51]

How will globalization affect the nation-state?[edit | edit source]

Anthony Giddens suggests that globalization affects the nation-state in three ways. [52] First, globalization, especially the global marketplace, takes certain powers away from the nation-state. Nation-states are not as in command of their economic futures as they used to be. The best example of this is the increasing inability of governments to control their currencies. Exchange rates are now determined by other people’s assessment of a country’s economic well-being.

At the same time, says Giddens, globalization creates new possibilities and motivations for local cultural autonomy and identities. This “push down effect” of globalization is the reason for the revival of local nationalism and local forms of cultural identity in all parts of the world. It may seem strange but the more we globalize, the more we localize.

The third effect of globalization is that it also pushes sideways. This is best seen in the emergence of regional groupings, which Keniche Ohmae calls “regional states”. [53] Both Giddens and Ohmae give as an example the area of Catalonia around Barcelona in northern Spain: Catalonia overlaps with southern France, but it is linked to the Spanish economy.

Clearly globalization is a complex set of partly contradictory forces. It is not, as globalization critics suggest, a single force pulling in a single direction.

How do the Internet and the ICT revolution affect governance?[edit | edit source]

Governance can be simply defined as “organizing collective action”. [54] It implies the organization of rules that allows, prescribes and prohibits certain actions. A narrower definition of governance relates it to government or the decision-making processes in the administration of a state. ICT has a major effect on governance in both its broad and narrow sense. The Institute of Governance (Canada) believes that ICTs:

… create new expectations among citizens about how governments should interact with them, and how services should be delivered. Internet technology and recent advances in applied genetics are significantly redefining the boundaries of personal choice and private influence, and of collective decision-making on matters of public importance. [55]

At one level, governments that use ICT will be better able to govern. E-government, or the use of ICT to enhance the access and delivery of government services to benefit citizens, is a necessary element in the government’s drive for good governance. E-government promises not only a more efficient and effective government but a more transparent one as well.

How does ICT transform international politics?[edit | edit source]

Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Jr reject the view that the information age will radically transform relations between nations. Their position is based on their belief that countries are already embedded in patterns of complex interdependence where “security and force matter less and countries are connected by multiple social and political relationships.” [56] However, they judge that

The information revolution alters patterns of complex interdependence by exponentially increasing the number of channels of communications in world politics—between individuals in networks, not just individuals within bureaucracies. But it exists in the context of an existing political structure, and its effects on the flows of different types of information vary vastly. [57]

They also agree that in the 21st century, “information technology, broadly defined, is likely to be the most important power resource.”

Other scholars have proposed the concept of noopolitik,whichrefers to a dimension of international relations that is related to the formation of a ‘noosphere’ or a global information environment. Noopolitik is projected as an alternative to realpolitik, the latter being the traditional approach to fostering the power of the state in the international arena, by negotiation, force, or the potential use of force. In a world characterized by globalization and shaped by information and communication, the ability to act on information flows, and on media messages, becomes an essential tool for fostering a political agenda. [58]

With noopolitik, diplomacy will now include not only governments but also the societies they represent. This new diplomacy may prevent confrontation, increase the opportunity for alliances, and foster cultural and political hegemony. Embedded in this new diplomacy is the capacity to intervene in the process of mental representation underlying public opinion and collective political behavior at the national level. [59]

What is cyberwar? Is it the same as information war and cyberterrorism?[edit | edit source]

Cyberwar, according to James Dunnigan, is the use of “electronic networks, and information, …as part of a weapon system”. [60] It includes warplanes using electronic devices to jam enemy radars to elude their missiles as well as hacking into the enemies’ bank accounts and/or their servers and information networks. He distinguishes cyberwar from “information war”, which is using information and news as weapon. Information war or propaganda war, claims Dunnigan, has been around for thousands of years. Cyberterrorism is a narrower concept, and is defined as “the premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs, and data which result in violence against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents.” [61]

The emergence of these terms is related to the fact that more and more governments and businesses are becoming dependent on computers and information systems. Databases of highly sensitive and confidential information are stored on computer systems. Air traffic control, banking and finance accounts, water utilities and other public utilities are assisted by computer programs and networks as well. Thus, these systems become targets of those who wish to threaten the government or the economy.

What is cybersecurity?[edit | edit source]

Cybersecurity is about combating threats and crimes in cyberspace. It includes passing appropriate laws and policies, as well as developing capabilities and institutions to prevent fraud and fight threats.

At the national level, government cybersecurity efforts have focused on creating the appropriate policy and legal environment, protecting critical infrastructure against cyber attacks and improving the security of the national information system. At the global level, various efforts are now underway to create a harmonized policy infrastructure to enable a robust and globally integrated system capable of responding to cyber threats in a coordinated and timely manner. In December 2002, the UNGA adopted resolution 57/239 calling for a “global culture of security”. [62] In the Asia-Pacific, APEC Leaders have issued a “Statement on Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Growth” which includes an APEC Cybersecurity Strategy to protect communications and information systems. [63] In their statement APEC leaders have announced their intention to: (1) enact cybersecurity laws that are consistent with international norms; (2) identify national cybercrime units; and (3) establish institutions that exchange threats and vulnerabilities (such as computer emergency response teams or CERTs).

While a focus on cybersecurity is important, analysts believe that cyber terrorist threats to computer structures are implausible. This is because terrorism is like lightning, taking the path of least resistance. Moreover, currently it is easier to blow something up than to figure out how to damage it by hacking into and manipulating a computer system. [64]