The Impact of Information and Communication Technology on State Sovereignty: An Analysis of the Cyber Utopian and Cyber Skeptic Perspectives
Mishra, Sara B.
- In the past few decades an information revolution has swept the globe, and affected the lives of billions of people. The concept of globalization has taken root in the minds and writings of academic scholars, government officials, industry professionals, and even average citizens. The trend of increased interaction between individuals across national borders has been enabled by a long series of ... read moredevelopments in transportation and information communication technologies (ICT). However, in recent decades there has been an increased focus on the role of ICT networks in connecting people around the world, specifically without the assistance or interference of their respective governments. Many individuals are inspired by the potential of these new technologies to allow for an unprecedented scale of international interaction. These "cyber utopians" see these ICT networks as facilitating a fundamental shift in how people organize themselves and the very fabric of governance. However, there are also individuals who argue that these recent ICT advances are just an extension of similar technological developments in the past. These "cyber skeptics" believe that in time the impact of ICT will be subjected to the rule of governments, and even become a useful tool for state control. At the core of the debate between these conflicting perspectives is the question: How are ICT networks impacting the sovereignty of states? The discussions in this analysis will not attempt to fully answer this question, but will seek to explore the theories that define "state sovereignty", and the contrasting perspectives on how it is being challenged by the decentralized nature of ICT networks. This analysis will address the two main questions: What are some of the functions of ICT networks that allow citizens to challenge the authority of the state? What are some of the functions of ICT networks that allow states to reassert their authority? And it will discuss, but by no means fully answer, the third question: "What challenge does the decentralized nature of ICT networks actually present to state sovereignty?" This analysis will take the theories and thoughts discussed by the cyber utopians and cyber skeptics and apply them to numerous case studies that illustrate the functions of ICT networks. In this way, there will be a comprehensive discussion of the challenges to and reassertions of state sovereignty. This will inform the author's own argument, that while ICT networks do not eliminate state sovereignty, they challenge states' control over actors within their borders. As a result regimes need to more actively reassert their authority in order to retain power, yet state sovereignty, as a whole still remains intact.read less