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Capability Development & Demonstration

One of the interesting topics in the process of building the global or semi-global cybersecurity structures is to consider the process or claiming the authority and indeed capability to provide such. From this point, it's possible to analyse critically the various campaigns and issues, as parts of the process and means along the way rather than abstract pure incidents with sound base distinct from identity and knowledge constructions.

This all becomes relevant when one considers that in this world of “megaphone diplomacy”, where the rules of the jungle do prevail and the noisiest rebels and bullies get their establishments grounded even more tightly in the minds of the people. Whether megaphone or microphone diplomacy, whether based on the analogy of chess, pure force, the abstract concept of freedom or democracy, the key issue here is how and by what means the various entities try to demonstrate their capabilities to do so. And as those key players love the concept of standardised, well working and modularised, if not even movable capabilities, they are forced to let others know what they can do, without telling it in many cases directly, but letting it be known while avoiding the non-repudiability.

Everyone got to know the wonderful nature of gossip and incrimination in school and other Foucaultian (if not Benthamian) settings. They are in essence equally useful when demonstrating cybersecurity capabilities. Paradoxically often the entity claiming the authority willing to demonstrate the capabilities cannot do so directly by herself, maybe because that would not be effective enough, would not produce the desired effect, or just because that would not be appropriate to do so.

Base on all this introduction, one may wonder the question: how would one entity go about declaring global surveillance capability? Or in a more casual environment, how would one claim the authority and demonstrate the capability to infiltrate companies, take down them or just take your hands off Facebook? This all requires the existence of opposition, immorality and the negation of the sovereignty, the challenger, the unknown dissident, or if you wish, the “dark spaces”. And as the sovereign is paradoxically dependent on the existence and indeed the performance of its anti-pole, it does actually generate and uphold such to feed the process of self-sustainability. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes things just happen.

So to conclude, it is good to remember that it might be naive to think that sovereign aiming to demonstrate its capabilities really was incapacitated or even mentally harassed by somebody performing as a catalyst in the successful demonstration. Again paradoxically the theatre of declaring such martyrdom is mandatory in order to uphold the established identities.


Kristo Helasvuo, Guest Author.

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