Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert wrote an article entitled “The Geopolitics of Cyberspace after Snowden,” [pdf] published in the January 2015 edition of Current History, a journal of contemporary world affairs.

Deibert’s article began by stating that disclosures from former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden have refocused the world’s attention on cyberspace from the activities of activists and criminals that have dominated the news media, to the less known activities of the world’s most powerful signals intelligence agencies: the NSA, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and their allies. Snowden’s disclosures have captured the public’s interest not only because they are controversial, but also because of cyberspace’s essential nature. “What was originally designed as a small-scale but robust information-sharing network for advanced university research has exploded into the information infrastructure for the entire planet,” Deibert said.

Deibert outlined three major trends shaping cyberspace recently: big data, state influence and control, and the arrival online of the next billion users, most of whom are in the global South.  The Snowden leaks have intensified these trends and, in some cases, redirected the focus of the conflicts over the Internet. With regard to greater state control over cyberspace, for instance, Deibert maintained that trends toward this outcome were already present before the Snowden disclosures. The cascade of leaks, however, threw a spotlight onto the issue and as a result, “created opportunities for alternative approaches emphasizing human rights, corporate social responsibility, norms of mutual restraint, cyberspace arms control, and the rule of law.” It remains to be seen whether or not such measures will be enough to stem the rising tide of state controls and shift the balance to civil society.

Read the full article. [pdf]