I have a short article in Policy Magazine summarizing a broader argument that I have been making about the limitations of a siloed digital foreign policy. The argument draws extensively on Disruptive Power. In short, I argue that a digital foreign policy:
will first and foremost require a rethinking of the approach to online governance. It means addressing the misalignment between our international institutions and the actors and technologies that currently have power. The status quo governance discourse delegitimizes many of the emerging actors with real power, and because of this it is blind to some of the core policy challenges of the 21st century.
It also means assessing what new technologies or socio-technological processes currently sit utside of our international governance structures. Algorithms, autonomous weapons, quantum computing and cryptocurrencies all exist in ungoverned spaces that fundamentally challenge the legitimacy and authority of the state. What does governance in this rapidly evolving space look like? Finally, taking digital foreign policy seriously means moving beyond siloed digital foreign policies. The idea that surveillance policy, digital diplomacy, autonomous weapons development and digital humanitarianism can be discussed in isolated departmental silos is absurd. They all intimately effect each other, are based on the same data flows and algorithmic tools, and contradictions between them seriously harm our credibility and impact in the world.
Put another way: What does a Whole of Government Digital Strategy look like—one that addresses surveillance, IP, C-51, dual-use technologies, cyber war, autonomous weapons and online finance? Taking this question seriously, with all of the complexities it entails, is a pre-requisite for for any country seeking to engage with responsibility, legitimacy and continued relevance in the emerging global digital system.