Many states have long relied on various forms of information control, such as surveillance and censorship, as part of their approach to governance. With the development of advanced digital technologies, states have new tools to monitor citizens, restrict communication, and manipulate information. While observers have expressed concerns that information control violates human rights and suppresses citizen influence in governance, the Covid-19 virus highlights another area where government information suppression can have pernicious consequences: public health.
This article was originally published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) on 02 March 2020.
China is increasingly seen as the central threat to the liberal Western world order. A growing sense that this shift is unstoppable creates a climate of discussion that overlooks important alternatives, writes Nadine Godehardt.
The U.S. and China have a mutual interest in containing the outbreak, but exchanges over the virus have not been without friction.
China hit a grim landmark earlier this week when the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak surpassed 1,000 with over 40,000 recorded cases of infection—and those numbers are rising every day. The outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, has rattled global markets and catalyzed concern over a widespread epidemic beyond China’s borders. The suffering has been immense, and people in China and those with family or friends there are frightened about what’s next. Meanwhile, there are shortages of masks and supplies and hospitals are overrun, with rising anxiety due to travel restrictions and quarantine policies.
Born in the 1990s, the thinking on cyber deterrence was nurtured by the U.S. Department of Defense in numerous war-gaming exercises. Hitting puberty in the aftermath of the distributed denial-of-service campaign against Estonia in 2007, cyber deterrence matured after Stuxnet and received peak attention from policymakers and academics from 2013 to 2016 during the golden age of ‘cyberwar’ scholarship. From 2016 onward, the interest in cyber deterrence started to fade to the extent that it is now intentionally neglected. The figure below captures this short life cycle by quantitatively visualizing the number of articles, book chapters, and research reports written on ‘cyber deterrence’ and ‘cyberdeterrence’ between January 1990 and January 2020.
Social media has proved an essential tool for catalyzing political activism and social change around the world. Yet, the very features that make it so useful to those with greater-good intentions—scalability, mobility, and low costs to entry—also make it prone to manipulation by malign actors who use it to spread disinformation and divisive rhetoric. These bad actors looking to sway public opinion include both fringe groups and well-funded, highly staffed government institutions. With the US presidential election approaching, voters and policymakers are rightly concerned with what should be done to mitigate the flurry of fake news stemming from beyond the border.