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The Common Good: Ethics and Rights in Cyber Security (ERCS)

People Involved

Dr David Lonsdale

Dr David Lonsdale
Senior Lecturer/ Programme Director, BA War Studies/ Programme Director, MA Strategy and International Security

James Connelly

Simon Willmetts

Project Description

If the recent controversies of U.S governmental surveillance and implicated technology companies demonstrated anything, it is the need for proportionate, just and effective cyber security in digital governance that is committed to the common good._x000D_
'The Common Good: Ethics and Rights in Cyber Security' (ERCS) project seeks to understand where the balance lies between security and ethics in digital governance. In order to achieve this, the project utilises the concept of the common good, and assesses whether or not it will prosper under digital governance and in the face of cyber security. The conception of the common good is a challenge to the claim that all goods are private or individual goods, and that all collective goods are reducible to an aggregate of private goods. A central them of a common good approach is, therefore, that it is more than the sum of its parts and that to contribute to the common good is at the same time to develop and enhance individual capacities and goods, rather than to detract from or weaken them. With that principle in mind, commitment to developing a common good would typically requires promotion of human dignity, peace, social development, participation and solidarity._x000D_
Developments in cyber security present both opportunities and threats to the fate of the common good. On the positive side, cyberspace presents the state with non-violent forms of power through which to pursue security and maintain peace. Information attack is one such capability. Similarly, information operations and cyber surveillance enable the state to support security policy in a more efficient manner. More information can be gathered to support policy-making or used to enhance the efficiency of military operations. Drone strikes are a prominent example of the latter. However, these same capabilities raise challenging ethical questions and potentially undermine individual rights and the prospects for the common good. Information attack, for example, whilst non-violent, relies for its effectiveness on the disruption of key socio-economic infrastructure. Such disruption may negatively impact prospects for development. Cyber espionage and surveillance have the potential to undermine privacy and damage legitimacy in digital governance. In this way, solidarity within and between groups may be negatively affected. The ethical implications of the exploitation of privately held data by states and corporations have prompted new socio-political movements and non-governmental organisations to challenge these developments. The project maps this resistance to surveillance, and the ideology and values of individuals and groups demanding transparency and privacy in cyber security._x000D_
This research project takes a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together experts in the fields of social science, security studies, intelligence studies, cultural studies, political philosophy, and public policy and institutional ethics. With such a range of disciplines represented, the project is ideally placed to provide a balanced analysis of the subject, ensuring that governance, security, and rights and ethics are all taken account of. Such a wide-ranging approach, which brings together theory and practice, ensures research outputs that are well informed and valuable to the user. In turn, this ensures that the project has clear and direct impact value._x000D_
The research will be conducted through the review of literature; analysis of government documents; interviews with stakeholders; and workshops and conferences. The latter will seek to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners. The academic community will be engaged through papers and conferences. Users will benefit from involvement in workshops and lectures given by the researchers at stakeholder institutions._x000D_
This project provides a necessary balanced assessment of where cyber security and rights meet for the common good of communities in an environment of global uncertainties

Type of Project Project
Status Project Complete
Funder(s) Economic & Social Research Council
Value £165,396.00
Project Dates Sep 1, 2014 - Oct 31, 2016

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