Understanding the New Frontier: Internet Governance Trade-Offs by Andrew Reddie, research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance program

The nation could be forgiven its current case of technological whiplash. Last week it learned that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had ordered Verizon to collect all of its customers’ data between January and April of this year. Then came Ed Snowden’s claims of the massive breadth of the NSA’s PRISM program, and the news that Microsoft has, along with the FBI, neutralized over ten thousand botnets in “Operation Citadel.” These revelations suggested that the boundaries between privacy and the surveillance state had shifted fundamentally, with profound legal, security, and social ramifications.It was in this context that the Council on Foreign Relations released its’ most recent Independent Task Force Report, “Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet.” The report makes a strong case for preserving internet freedom. But it also highlights the lurking dichotomy between security and the protection of civil liberties, as the Internet matures and states inevitably (in the view of the task force) play a larger role in its governance.

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