Political Space and Cyberspace

Is the Internet fragmenting? Is there an inherent contradiction between jurisdiction and the Internet? Is “data sovereignty” desirable, or even technically possible? On May 19 and 20 the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy will host a workshop on Political Space and Cyberspace to explore these questions. This invitation-only workshop will explore the tensions and intersections between political territory/jurisdiction and the globalized virtual territory called cyberspace. Papers from noted scholars such as Ron Deibert, Milton Mueller, Louis Pauly, Sandra Braman, Peter Swire, Mark Gondree, Susan Aaronson and many others will examine this problem from the perspective of   international relations, political geography, political science, network measurement, cybersecurity, Internet governance and trade.

Territory is a core concept of political authority, as sovereigns hold supreme authority inside their borders and exclude other sovereigns at their borders. Communication via the Internet creates new virtual spaces that are not aligned with political geography. While it is possible to see technical adaptations of cyberspace to territorial domains, and vice-versa, the policy and governance problems posed by their intersection remain largely unsettled. How can states, multinational businesses, communities, and individuals negotiate the misalignment between the Internet’s geographically unbounded information flows and the political and legal systems’ emphasis on well-defined, stable jurisdictional borders? The resolution of these problems has profound practical implications for all aspects of global order, but also poses interesting puzzles in computer science, international relations, public policy and institutional theory.

Although the workshop is closed to facilitate intensive interactions among the participants, an account of the proceedings will be published here and research papers based on the conference will be developed and published later. Download the program and a list of the papers and abstracts here.

 

2 comments

  1. Richard Hill

    Good initiative.

    But I note that the last point in the first abstract is ” It is possible to conceive of cyberspace as a sovereign space governed by a non-national polity”

    That is certainly true, but that conception runs into the reality of the fact that offline law applies equally online, so cyberspace is governed by national laws (as Deibert and Pauly point out in their abstract).

    Regarding analogies to the law of the sea, the high seas were not subject to national control, whereas essentially all cyberspace activities take place within national territories.