The US and its conflicting strategic narratives in internet governance

Carlos Diaz Barriga

Do you think there are conflicting aspects of the “strategic narratives” that the US promotes around its internet governance policies? If so, why?

The United States government positions itself as a fighter for freedom and firmly opposed to censorship. However, their policies on surveillance of internet users in the US says otherwise.

The strategic narrative the US has created for themselves is “the country that puts free speech above everything.” They’re very critical on the way China limits its use of the internet for their citizens. They claim it’s censorship to not allow social networks like Facebook and Twitter over there.

At the same time, the US has very strict policies in how they monitor that “free speech” and heavy measures on that speech they deem dangerous. For years, the National Security Agency (NSA) has collected American’s private data in bulk without any consent. It was only until Edward Snowden became a whistleblower that the citizens became aware of the US government acting like Big Brother, a very different narrative than the one they had been cultivating in the media for years.

This is not to say the US and China are comparable in internet governance aspects. China is still extremely limiting in the way their citizens can use the internet and how people from all over the world can communicate with them online. China is a firm believer that a nation’s sovereignty also covers cyberspace and works to control network technology.

One can make the argument that the NSA spying is a “necessary evil” in order to combat terrorism. However, not many people agree: polls show the majority of Americans are against this type of surveillance.

One thought on “The US and its conflicting strategic narratives in internet governance

  1. I agree with you that the US has a pretty blatant double standard when it comes to internet governance and information sovereignty. While China’s model of internet governance is far removed from ideal, it is at the very least consistent. They are and have always remained opposed to unapproved information entering their borders. (Powers and Jablonski)

    On one hand, there is a narrative of free speech that exacerbates the idea of the “land of the free.” The United States and several other countries have been attempting to balance that idea with maintaining social accord. For example, in India, the idea of trolls on social media has just begun to take the forefront. How do you clamp down on these trolls while still ensuring the rights to free speech? I believe this problem takes center-stage here much more so than in other countries. I think that it might be because of the pre-existing narrative of freedom that forms the idea of America.

    On the other hand, like you point out, the state has a very conflicting way of monitoring that free speech. Some people argue that this surveillance is a very necessary precaution to ensure security while others disagree. In here lies the primary conflict of narratives in the United States’ communication strategy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *