Edited by Gary E. Marchant, Kenneth W. Abbott and Braden Allenby
Chapter 11: Network security agreements: communications technology governance by other means
It has been said we live in the “Communications Age” – a portentous assertion when in other named “ages” (from iron and bronze to nuclear), those who controlled or most effectively used the eponymous technology attained economic, military, and political ascendancy. If this, then, is the Communications Age, governments can be expected to seek effective governance of communications technology and infrastructure as a paramount objective. Indeed, media reports have increasingly depicted lawmakers and analysts fretting over such matters as Internet freedom, online privacy, and various “cyber” issues, including cybersecurity, cybercrime, and cyberwar. With the rapid changes in information and communication technologies, ensuring the security of communication networks presents a singular challenge. The question is how the government can most effectively accomplish the goal of securing the nation’s networks. Which governance model would be best suited to engage network operators in laying the conditions necessary for meeting that goal? Following a traditional form of governance, Congress might delegate overall responsibility for the problem to a single regulatory agency. That agency could then investigate all the relevant information, seek public input, and eventually promulgate generally applicable rules, to which network operators would be legally required to adhere. Such regulatory processes, however, can be exceedingly slow and inflexible, especially for rapidly evolving technologies. To secure the nation’s communications infrastructure, US federal agencies have improvised an alternative approach – one less formal and more adaptive – involving the use of network security agreements.
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