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UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 21th June-2021

Cyberspace is a global common. Explain. Also discuss the challenges to Cyberspace as a global common.

Cyberspace and global common

Cyberspace spans the entire globe almost seamlessly.

  • The national assets have to be part of the cyberspace, the global commons, to derive benefits of connectivity-global e-commerce, email, funds transfer, stock trading, and other relations for business and trade; social networking that is spawning global communities, and changing the way people keep in touch with their families and friends.
  • Cyberspace is indeed a global common, albeit of a new kind, since it is man-made.
  • It facilitates the transfer of data and information rather than people, vessels, and goods; it is largely owned by the private sector.
  • But it’s a national asset too, since it enables a host of business and government services to citizens; critical infrastructure depends on it for its efficient operations.
  • In fact, economies of advanced nations almost entirely depend upon it.
  • The attacks on these systems can come from anywhere in the world, because cyberspace is borderless.
  • That’s what makes cyberspace a unique global common, with every piece belonging to some company, organization, or individual as part of a national ICT asset.

Challenges to Cyberspace as a global common

  • Recent cyber-attacks by organized criminals, non-state actors, and even nation-states have underlined the threat scenario.
  • Sensitive country information including defence secrets, embassies’ correspondence; intellectual property comprising R&D of several companies based on years of efforts worth billions of dollars; penetration of critical infrastructures; use of cyberspace by terrorists, by nation-states through non-state actors have raised the spectre of a silent net-centric war-in what is known as cyber warfare.
  • Cyberspace has emerged as the new domain-beyond land, sea, air and space-that has to be factored by nations in their national defence strategies and plans. Cyberspace commons, therefore must have rules of the road.
  • Cyberspace is anarchic today since there is no formal governance regime. Market based governance that includes people, groups, and governments around the world has produced a flexible and effective global network of networks. But its regulation is complicated by several features.
  • Cyberspace is asymmetric, and offense dominant, provides anonymity because of difficulties in attribution-with implications for bringing criminals to justice and for deterrence and reprisal in the battle space.
  • Silent, undetected attacks by non-state actors-criminals and terrorists-and by nation-states for cyber espionage, and disruption of critical infrastructures to cripple economies and spread disorder-are a reality.

Since the cyberattacks respect no borders, it is thus essential to bring the international community together to ensure peace and security in the digital space. In such a scenario, shared rules and norms become imperative.


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