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The Politics of the Internet – Lecture Four The Internet and International Politics

The Politics of the Internet – Lecture Four The Internet and International Politics

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The Politics of the Internet – Lecture Four The Internet and International Politics

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  1. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourThe Internet and International Politics • The Internet has not undermined states • But it has made life more complex for them • What have its effects been on the international system of politics? • Some argue that it has resulted in major changes, some in minor changes.

  2. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourPolitical scientists and international relations • State Sovereignty and Westphalian system • Sharp division between international and domestic politics. • States the main actors in international politics • Autonomous within their own realms.

  3. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourInternet and International Politics • How does the Internet affect this? • Some argue that its effects are marginal • International politics are still as they were • Big states dominate, while small states and non-state actors lose out • Others argue that there are major changes • States relate to each other in different ways • Non-state actors suddenly have new options.

  4. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourDebates over the Internet and IR • In this class, we will examine the debate • Not as easy to arrive at simple conclusions as in the debate between cyberlibertarians and others • Arguments to be made on both sides • Prof. Farrell’s view – a mixture (and extension) of both viewpoints.

  5. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourInternational Relations: Refresher • International relations has traditionally focused on politics between states rather than politics within states. • The realm of international politics is seen as being fundamentally different from domestic politics • No overarching government in the international system – there is no world government. Instead, there is “anarchy.”

  6. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourThe Westphalian System • International Relations Scholars usually assume that states are sovereign. • This is the keystone of the Westphalian system of international politics – what IR scholars have traditionally claimed prevails. • Westphalian system a product of the religious wars of the early modern period (16th century) in Western Europe. • Cuius regio, eius religio

  7. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourPrinciples of Westphalia • Non-intervention – states don’t intervene in each other’s internal affairs. The key attribute of sovereignty • Lack of hierarchy in international affairs – no over-arching authority whom states have to obey. • Territoriality – i.e. political system defined by clear borders between territories. • Each population only has one ruler (very different from mediaeval Europe).

  8. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourStates and the International System • Under the Westphalian system, states seen as the only legitimate or genuinely powerful actors in international politics. • International politics is mostly about force or the threat of force. • Only states have armies. • Other actors seen as mostly irrelevant because they don’t have access to military power. • Cannons were seen as the ultima ratio regem (the final argument of kings).

  9. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourDividing national and international politics • Westphalian system has a clear division between domestic politics and international system. • International politics is what states do among each other. • Domestic politics is what takes place within national borders. • Not much interaction between the two (international system isn’t driven by domestic events).

  10. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourThe Internet and International Politics • What does the Internet have to do with all of this? • Some (Kobrin) argue that the Internet has fundamental implications for the international (Westphalian) system. • Others (Goldsmith and Yu) argue that politics in the international realm is still going on as before; i.e. states dominate. • Others still (Farrell) focus on new emerging state-private actor relations of authority, or on strange new forms of governance (Mueller).

  11. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourBack to the future? • Kobrin’s argument – we are getting back to something a little like the system that existed in Europe before Westphalia. • i.e. to something like the old Holy Roman Empire. • No empire as such • But more complicated political relationships and allegiances • New role for non-state actors in international politics.

  12. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourSubverting Westphalia • Internet, in Kobrin’s view is key to this – it subverts the basic principles of Westphalia. • (1) The Internet breaks down the distinction between international and national politics. • (2) The Internet subverts the principle of territoriality. • (3) The Internet creates new possibilities for non-state actors in international politics.

  13. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourThe Internet and the International Realm • The Internet breaks down the relationship between domestic and international politics. • What is domestic and what is international in the Internet? No real way to say. • Internet means that domestic and international policy get confused. • Domestic policy choices have international implications and vice-versa

  14. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourTerritoriality and the Internet • Territoriality gets subverted by Internet. • Political choices made by one state may have serious implications outside its borders. • If one state permits gambling operations, or pornography vendors to set up websites on its territory, then citizens of other countries will be able to access these websites even if they are illegal in those other countries. • As discussed last week, some limits to this – but it still poses new problems.

  15. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourOrganizing private actors • Internet allows new possibilities to non-state actors. • Can use the Internet to organize more easily and thus affect international politics. • Internet allows them to communicate more easily, and to re-organize rapidly, without any hierarchical command structure.

  16. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourImplications for Westphalia • Kobrin (and others) thus argue that the Internet is making international politics much more complicated. • May lead to major changes. • Political allegiances of individuals may shift as power shifts. • New concepts of citizenship may be needed. • (Or, alternatively, we might see a return to the Dark Ages).

  17. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourThe Empire Strikes Back? • Might be a return to old imperial system where individuals had multiple and complex loyalties. • New political spaces created that would transcend national boundaries. • Need for something to replace old system – which isn’t tackling global problems anyway.

  18. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourOr business as usual? • However, some arguments that the Internet’s effects on state power are modest at best (Goldsmith and Wu). • No evidence of a major shift in the international system. • States are still the dominant actors in international politics. • And according to Goldsmith and Wu, this is a good thing ...

  19. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourG&W’s claims: Sovereignty not under threat • State power not being undermined by Internet (last week’s lecture). • States are making the key choices over how the Internet should be governed, just as in other policy areas. • Are firmly in control of their fates – not about to be squashed by a technological juggernaut.

  20. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourG&W’s claims: States and private actors • Argument that private actors can use the Internet to elude states doesn’t hold up. • States (as discussed already and to be discussed in more detail in the Chinese case) have many options if they want to stop people from using Internet illicitly. • The Internet isn’t one vast, undifferentiated space. • Instead, it has cultural and legal and technological barriers that divide it.

  21. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourG&W – Cultural Barriers • Cultural barriers – people don’t necessarily want to cross borders. • Internet users in Tokyo will typically want local news in Japanese, in Seattle, local news in English, in Paris, local news in French etc. • So they may not want to venture too far beyond their national boundaries on a regular basis.

  22. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourG&W – Legal Barriers • Legal Barriers - Different countries have different laws. • They also tend often to respect each others’ laws (principle of comity, rules governing choice of law etc). • They also tend to press private actors to obey their law (rather than the law of another country) if it’s in a matter that directly affects their citizens. • This might be irrelevant if countries or individuals couldn’t detect where Internet users were located. • But it’s possible to figure this out, with a bit of technical wizardry. • Result: Different national laws can co-exist, as they do in the regular legal system.

  23. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture 4G&W: Technical Barriers • To be discussed in later class. • Various means that states can use to block people from accessing outside content, including IP-blocking, content filtering etc. • Usually possible for sophisticated users to bypass these restrictions. • But everyday users may find this more difficult.

  24. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourImplications of Goldsmith and Wu’s argument • The international system is more or less as it always was. • States dominate. • Non-state actors have a minor role, if any • A major change in the basis of international politics (of the sort that Kobrin proposes) is extremely unlikely.

  25. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourEvaluating arguments – Farrell’s Take • Both arguments have some plausible elements. • Internet has only just arrived – it will be a long time before we can really arrive at firm judgements about what it means. • But there are weaknesses to both arguments – and a possible third alternative. • Examine 4 brief case studies.

  26. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourExample 1 • WTO protestors

  27. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture Four • “Battle for Seattle” and subsequent rounds of protest in Genoa saw new use of Internet by protestors. • On the one hand, little to no central organization (lots of different groups and people who just showed up). • On the other hand, highly effective coordination. • Succeeded in getting some politicians to listen to their opinions.

  28. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourBut… • WTO protestors never presented a serious challenge to the power of states. • Indeed, without state actors to address their demands to, they would have been completely powerless to effect change. • In a certain sense, they affirmed the power of states as much as they challenged them. • States can block them from assembling. • Result: unclear whether states or private actors are prevailing in this area.

  29. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourExample 2: Blogs in Iran • Blogs present another interesting example. • Iranian blogs played an important role in hosting democratic debate. • Hundreds of thousands of Iranians blog – unlike many countries in its region, it didn’t impose strong Internet censorship until very recently. • However, it did censor the press heavily, with the result that many journalists became bloggers.

  30. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourBlogs in Iran Today • However, blogs and web pages have seen much heavier censorship in the last two years. • The figure responsible in the Iranian government boasted that 10 million websites were being censored. • Possible to circumvent these barriers – but it’s not clear that many people bother. • Suggests that in this area states are winning.

  31. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture Four Example 3: Online Terrorism • Terrorist organizations have made extensive use of the WWW. • Original fears of attacks on US servers etc have proved unfounded up until now. • But the Internet is a potent recruiting tool. • Terrorist organizations use websites, videos, podcasts to get their message across and avoid censorship.

  32. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourCombatting Online Terrorism • Hard for states to stamp out terrorist websites without massive censorship effort. • Often are only available through private access and encrypted. • Use security vulnerabilities to host themselves on other people’s servers. • Including Arkansas State Highway Dept computers. • Or use newsgroups at Yahoo, Google etc.

  33. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourExample 4: The Yahoo! case • The Yahoo! case (described in Goldsmith and Wu reading). • Yahoo! auctions allowed people to buy and sell Nazi paraphernalia. • This is illegal in France – so activists took Yahoo! to court in France. • The French court ruled that Yahoo! had to ensure that French people didn’t have access to Nazi materials. • Yahoo! protested – but effectively complied.

  34. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourYahoo! and international politics • This shows how Internet regulation increasingly involves not only negotiation between states – but bargaining between states and private actors. • Yahoo! was worried that France would impose fines. • Effectively ended up imposing France’s preferences – even on customers who didn’t live in France.

  35. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourStates v. private actors in international system • These cases provide mixed results – no universal support either for claim that states are able to do whatever they want (Goldsmith and Wu) or that new forms of governance are appearing (Kobrin). • Instead, each approach does well in explaining some cases, and not so well in explaining others. • Is there a way of reconciling these arguments?

  36. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourReconciling the two • Farrell’s take – these problems can partly be resolved through a careful examination of what is happening. • States often continue to drive international politics. • But as the border between international and national politics becomes more blurred, they find their policies clashing more often. • In these circumstances, states’ effective ability to carry out policy will often depend on their ability to influence private actors. • Where states have appropriate levers, they can control private actors’ choices. • Where not, they can’t.

  37. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourStates and private actors • Reidenberg (an optional reading) points to how states are increasingly using private actors to achieve their policy goals. • They can use private actors as intermediates or proxies to achieve goals that they cannot achieve directly. • Leads to a new – and interesting – form of international politics as states struggle for influence over private actors. • Easier for states to influence big actors with assets under their control than small actors whose assets they can’t easily touch.

  38. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourNew politics • What does this mean? Some important implications flow from this. • (1) That states’ ability to get what they want in Internet regulation will often depend on their ability to influence private actors. • (2) That where states disagree, those states with more influence over the relevant private actors will tend to win. • (3) That some actors will be more vulnerable than others to states’ influence.

  39. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourImplications for the US • This has some interesting implications for the US. • On the face of it, the US should be the most powerful player – it has the biggest markets. • But very often it has deliberately given up the sticks that it could use to force private actors to do its bidding. • Why? • Influence of e-commerce firms and of libertarians on early debates over Internet and law. • Both pushed strongly for self-regulation rather than traditional law.

  40. The Politics of the Internet – Week Four Results • In areas where US has introduced strong laws that provide real sticks to use against private actors, it has usually been pretty successful in influencing international debates. • Security questions (passenger traffic data) • In areas where it has gone for self regulation instead, it has been a lot weaker. • Freedom of speech on the Internet

  41. The Politics of the Internet – Week Four Passenger Data • US had a big fight with Europe (which is perhaps about to erupt again, over privacy and airline passenger data • US wanted access to data on passengers flying from Europe for security reasons. • Passed a law post September 11 requiring airlines to provide this data • European privacy law forbade this. • Question – would the airlines obey US or European law?

  42. The Politics of the Internet – Week Four Strength of US • In this case, US managed to prevail over Europeans. • Airlines made it clear to the Europeans that they would comply with US law, not European law. • Faced much more serious penalties • Europeans had little choice but to negotiate an agreement on terms highly favourable to the US

  43. Freedom of Speech • But in freedom of speech, US has opted primarily for a self-regulatory approach. • Because of attraction to self-regulation. • Also difficulties of regulating speech thanks to First Amendment. • This has meant that the US has had difficulties in encouraging spread of its values worldwide.

  44. The Politics of the Internet – Week Four Weakness of US • US government has made it clear that it believes freedom of speech is in its broad commercial, political and security interests. • (albeit with a little bit of hypocrisy as is typical of states acting in their own interests) • But has few positive incentives to offer to Yahoo!, Google etc, nor much in the way of negative ones either. • Result – these firms tend to defer to authoritarian regimes as best fits their commercial self-interest.

  45. The Politics of the Internet – Week FourPolitical Choices • Finally, as Mueller suggests (assigned reading), this means that the future governance of the Internet isn’t necessarily the inevitable result of state power, as Goldsmith and Wu seem to suggest. • Instead, it’s at least in part the result of political choices. • Goldsmith and Wu’s ideal world has some problems, even if it allows diverse choices across states. • Would we be better off having an uniform regime in at least some areas of policy?

  46. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourWhat we have learned • International politics – traditional views. • Westphalian system of state sovereignty • Sharp distinction between domestic and international levels of politics. • Two different view of how the Internet affects this. • (1) All will change – Internet has profound consequences for international system. • (2) All stays the same – States are in control of the process – no change to international politics. • (3) Farrell’s approach –states are still in control, but they often need to work through private actors.

  47. The Politics of the Internet – Lecture FourNext week’s readings. • What are the forces that people say are changing electoral politics (Wired reading) • What are the limits to these forces (Johnson, Schmitt) • What is the role of blogs both in politics and the media (Drezner and Farrell) • Nb – you only need to skim the statistics section in the Drezner and Farrell article.