Contest and conquest: Russia and global internet governance

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Series Details Vol.91, No.1, January 2015, p111–130
Publication Date January 2015
ISSN 1473-8104
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International Affairs is a leading journal of international relations. Members of Chatham House have access to current and previous issues.

Non-Chatham House members can subscribe via Wiley-Blackwell. Electronic access to the full text of the article via the source url above is only available if you (or the network by which you access ESO) already subscribes to Wiley-Blackwell and your network uses a link resolver.For more than a decade, Russia's foreign policy has sought to challenge the international consensus on a number of issues. Today, as the international internet ecosystem is becoming more volatile, Moscow is eager to shift the western narrative over the current global internet governance regime, in which the United States retains considerable leverage. In a context wherein states increasingly forge links between cyberspace and foreign policy, this article explores Russia's deepening involvement in internet governance.

The disclosure by Edward Snowden of the US government's wide net of online surveillance contributed to legitimize the Russian approach to controlling online activity. While the struggle around the narrative of internet governance has been heating up since then, Russia actively seeks to coordinate internet governance and cyber security policies with like-minded states in both regional forums and the United Nations. By introducing security concerns and advocating more hierarchy and a greater role for governments, Moscow is contributing to the politicization of global cyber issues and seeking to reshape the network in accordance with its own domestic political interests. Indeed, the Russian leadership has come to consider the foreign policy of the internet as the establishment of a new US-led hegemonic framework that Washington would use to subvert other sovereign states with its own world views and values.

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