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[liberationtech] The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom

Shawn Mathew Powers smp at
Wed Mar 11 11:55:57 PDT 2015

We are pleased to announce the release of The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom (University of Illinois Press, 2015, by Shawn Powers ( and Michael Jablonski ( The book is on sale now ( for $25 (paperback). The Kindle edition ( is just $11.75.

About the book: Discussions surrounding the role of the internet in society are dominated by terms such as internet freedom, surveillance, cybersecurity, and, most prolifically, cyber war. But behind the rhetoric of cyber war is an ongoing state-centered battle for control of information resources. Powers and Jablonski conceptualize this real cyber war as the utilization of digital networks for geopolitical purposes, including covert attacks against another state’s electronic systems, but also, and more importantly, the variety of ways the internet is used to further a state’s economic and military agendas.

Moving beyond debates on the democratic value of new and emerging information technologies, The Real Cyber War focuses on political, economic, and geopolitical factors driving internet freedom policies, in particular the U.S. State Department's emerging doctrine in support of a universal freedom to connect. They argue that efforts to create a universal internet built upon Western legal, political, and social preferences is driven by economic and geopolitical motivations rather than the humanitarian and democratic ideals that typically accompany related policy discourse. In fact, the freedom-to-connect movement is intertwined with broader efforts to structure global society in ways that favor American and Western cultures, economies, and governments.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Geopolitics & the Internet

1. Information Freedom & US Foreign Policy: A History

2. The Information Industrial Complex

3. Google, Information & Power

4. The Economics of Internet Connectivity

5. The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance

6. Towards Information Sovereignty

7. Internet Freedom in a Surveillance Society

Conclusion: Taming Geopolitics


"A knowing, wide-ranging, perceptive, important, and original book. Powers and Jablonski connect disparate and significant dots; weave history, technology, and law together; and explain interrelated complex concepts imaginatively. They tell a compelling story key for any student of transnational information flows."--Monroe Price, author of Media and Sovereignty: The Global Information Revolution and its Challenge to State Power

"As governments, companies, civil society, and other stakeholders struggle towards a new global information and communication order in the post-Snowden world, this equally provocative and important book cuts through the Western rhetoric of 'Internet freedom' and draws a sobering picture of how policy-making in this space is ultimately a fight for control over information, which is largely driven by economic and geopolitical interests rather than democratic ideals and human rights."--Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Where to learn more?

University of Illinois Press (

Amazon (<>

Feedback and questions are welcome. Also, if you are working on a similar or related project, please get in touch! All the best,


Shawn Powers, PhD
Assistant Professor, Communication
Associate Director, CIME
Georgia State University
smp at<mailto:smp at>

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