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Big Tech’s Big Test

Digital technology’s strengths and weaknesses have been on full display during the pandemic, with the unprecedented shift to online work, education, and shopping being accompanied by a sharp increase in cyberattacks. How can policymakers best mitigate threats to the integrity of the Internet while encouraging innovation and expansion of the digital economy?

In this Big Picture, Michael Chertoff, Latha Reddy, and Alexander Klimburg of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace urge governments to adopt new global norms prohibiting attacks on Internet infrastructure. Likewise, Marietje Schaake and Stéphane Duguin of the CyberPeace Institute call on policymakers to protect health facilities and other critical civilian infrastructure from cyberattacks, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.

As for economic policies, Stanford University’s John B. Taylor says governments should follow the private sector’s lead and do more to encourage new markets in e-commerce, telemedicine, and remote learning. Similarly, Harvard University’s Kenneth Rogoff argues that US federal government funding for online courses (including for adults) would be a fairer and more efficient way of broadening access to higher education than making college free.

But Stephanie Hankey of the international NGO Tactical Tech is less sanguine, cautioning that the increased public use of personal behavioral data will force societies to confront hard questions about how emerging digital technologies might create new forms of power.

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