Ian Bremmer: digital communication has opened up a new arms race between state and individual

Raleigh Addington
Raleigh Addington
administrator at Chartwell Speakers

In the wake of the Edward Snowden extradition affair, Ian Bremmer wrote a thoughtful piece in today’s FT on how digital communications are opening up a new arms race between individual and state.

  • Communication flows from mobile technology and social media have empowered the individual.
  • However, states (from the US to China) are increasingly using the data generated by these information flows to fight back against perceived threats.
  • Different government will use this data analysis for different ends: on the one hand it can be used to help design systems that improve public health, improve street traffic flow, fight crime and protect national security. On the other, it can also compromise privacy and lead to abuse of state power as officials seek to maximise their control over everything they consider to be relevant for state security.
  • Around the world, the race is on between a communications revolution that empowers the individual, and a data revolution that is designed to protect the state.
  • This race will play out differently in different countries, and will continue for many years to come.
  • Digital communications have altered the relationship between individual and state, but it’s a mistake to think the state won’t be able to hold its own.