The White House rolled out its International Strategy for Cyberspace on Monday, a carefully worded plan, which the US claims will help “build on cyberspace’s successes and help secure its future – for the United States, and the global community.”
This is to formally strategize the Internet freedom diplomacy that has been defended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since early last year.
A borderless cyber world with a free flow of information and maximum economic benefits is an ideal situation, except that the standard is set by the US, which would “combine diplomacy, defense and development” to reach this vaguely stated goal.
Countries still at the receiving end of online information are at the stage of better integrating cyberspace into everyday life, to which end necessary Internet regulation is needed to ensure a fair and balanced online world.
US Internet freedom diplomacy has its precedents, for example, the Voice of America, whose fate is clear to us all. The Internet freedom of the US has received attention in other countries, but many others think it is another tool to impose a US worldview, and that more strict controls are needed to prevent the damage these conceptions may wreak. Furthermore, countries with differing ideologies are often subject to Internet freedom censure by the US.
A well-regulated Internet is conducive to an orderly society, but if online irrationality is extended to the real world upon being stoked, the public will have to pay for the consequences.
The key for China is to secure its cyber order and security with its own technology. Internet regulation is necessary in China, as in other countries, however the country should not stay defensively minded but move toward a more efficient approach toward online public opinion.
The Internet has a profound impact on the real world, but it is still a virtual place. At first glance, cyberspace in China contains many angry voices, but to what extent can they represent the public in the real world? A slight number of Chinese netizens, 477 million in total, making complaints can result in a pretty big volume. The situation today often is that a few loud voices dominate the online agenda.
Where do those who do not go online acquire their political ideas? Policymaking needs to take a comprehensive view of public opinion, not listen to a few disturbing Internet posts.