Bounding Cyber Power: Escalation and Restraint in Global Cyberspace

Paper No. 6

October 16, 2013

Cyberspace — the global communications and information ecosystem — is now deeply embedded in all aspects of our society, economics and politics. The security of this growing domain has become highly contested among states, the private sector and civil society. In this paper, the sixth in the Internet Governance Papers, Ronald J. Deibert argues that the near term in cyberspace governance has many scenarios taking us down a number of paths, while at the same time, the forces that shape social order are driving securitization processes in cyberspace. He argues that these processes may end up subverting the domain entirely, possibly leading to a system wide instability and perhaps international violence. We must have a clear vision and strategy to implement a security framework, and this requires coordinated work at multiple levels and a wide variety of stakeholders.

Part of Series

Internet Governance

The need to develop a coherent strategy for internet governance ensuring that difficult trade-offs between competing interests, as well as between distinct public values, are managed in a consistent, transparent and accountable manner that accurately reflects public priorities guided the members of this research project, launched in 2012. In aiming to develop this strategy, project members considered what kind of internet the world wants in 2020, laying the analytical groundwork for future internet governance discussions, most notably the decennial review of the World Summit on the Information Society. The Internet Governance paper series resulted in the publication of a book in 2014.

About the Author

Ronald J. Deibert is professor of political science and director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. His research interests include global security, human rights and the geopolitics of cyberspace and information controls.