The Cyberspace Frontier has closed

One of the fascinating things about networks is what goes on behind the scenes. Few people are aware of the mass of filtering, monitoring and eavesdropping that takes place across international, or even enterprise, networks. We often imagine that we’re surfing an open network. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

So I was particularly interested to hear Rob Carolina assert that the Cyberspace Frontier has now closed. Rob is one of the finest and most experienced lawyers operating in the IT and information security field. He doesn’t make statements like that lightly.

In fact, Rob first announced this in a recent address to the first Royal Holloway Information Security Group Alumni Conference. But I didn’t hear this until I ran into him at this week’s Gartner IT Security Summit. His point is that the Internet now has borders, and has entered an age of de-globalisation.

Governments, law enforcement officials, lawyers, judges, and policy makers have caught up with the Internet and brought it back to Earth. It’s organised around geographic borders. You get different results if you access the same news sites from different countries. 

The big question is whether this is a temporary relapse or a permanent state. I suggest the former. The information age needs no perimeters. Asserting national borders is merely the last gasp of an outdated, though powerful network of ancient institutions.  

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