Cyberspace, Cybersecurity, and American Competitiveness

As the global economy evolves, cyberspace is becoming more and more integral to American competitiveness.  On October 17, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Renewing America Initiative hosted an Expert Roundup to explore this issue titled, “Cyberspace and U.S. Competitiveness.”  This event discussed government regulation of cyberspace, bandwidth size, and broadband access in the United States.

In addition to transforming communication and business-consumer relations, the internet has given rise to unprecedented business models that transcend national borders.  “Policymakers and chief executives need to understand this new kind of consumer power and let it flower if they want to better serve their audiences,” said James Harkin, author and director of Flockwatching.  Peter Schwartz, cofounder and chairman of the Global Business Network, explained, “Domestically, the policy targets should be expanding and deepening access to all U.S. citizens at a lower cost. The country lags behind many nations both in the percentage of citizens with Internet access and in the amount of bandwidth available.”

While cyberspace can serve to bolster American competitiveness, it also comes with risks.  Cyber attacks can often inflict damage of an unprecedented size.  As more information and greater internet access spreads to more people, security risks can rise.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman recently accused China of conducting “predatory” cyber attacks and intellectual property theft against the United States, reports the Los Angeles Times.  Similarly, the Ponemon Institute recently published a study demonstrating the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks, writes P.R. Newswire.  “77 percent of businesses responded that attacks have become more severe while 78 percent said they have become more frequent,” according to this study.

Even considering the risks, harnessing the internet for America’s future competitiveness will remain a key challenge.  “The Internet has become a universal solvent, which enables a knowledge-intensive economy and growing citizen power. Washington needs to do everything it can to assure that this digital infrastructure continues to advance, deepen, and grow in its reach,” Schwartz concluded.

Posted by: Rebecca Anderson

Sources: Council on Foreign Relations, L.A. Times, P.R. Newswire

Photo credit: Internet courtesy of Flickr user transCam

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