Tuesday, October 18, 2016

U.S. Cyber-Diplomacy Networks: International Cooperation on the Digital Frontier

L. Hennemuth I intend to take the second module.

Title: U.S. Cyber-Diplomacy Networks: International Cooperation on the Digital Frontier

Background: Cyberspace has emerged as a critical site for international conflict and cooperation. The evolving digital frontier presents new threats to security and human rights, but it also offers opportunities for building bridges that foster stability, facilitate justice, and promote prosperity. To act on these opportunities for international cooperation in cyberspace, the Obama Administration created the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues (S/CCI) at the U.S. Department of State in 2011. Headed by Christopher Painter, this office engages with other countries to establish norms for state behavior in cyberspace. S/CCI also leads the broader whole of government approach to conducting cyber dialogue that includes other U.S. Government agencies’ international outreach.

Even before the creation of S/CCI, the U.S. ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime exemplified the cyber cooperation the U.S. Government promotes, serving as a model for its relationship-building among international law enforcement agencies to enhance cybersecurity. Though some states and cyber experts favor the writing of a new international treaty to counter the threat of cyberwar, the U.S. Government disagrees, arguing that it would provide little benefit while detracting from existing cooperation measures and possibly permitting repression. Beyond treaties, ongoing cooperation measures include S/CCI’s coordination of cyber dialogues through bilateral consultations (e.g., the United States-Republic of Korea Bilateral Cyber Consultations) and multilateral groups (e.g., the Ise-Shima Cyber Group, a G7 working group). Through participation in these various institutions and consultations, the United States aims to reduce uncertainty and avoid conflict.

Research Questions: In conducting an analysis of the connections between the United States and other states in the area of cyber-diplomacy, I intend to highlight what the network has to say about opportunities for cooperation and conflict in cyberspace. In answering this larger question, I intend to also answer the following ones:

-    Which states are frequent cyber-diplomacy collaborators with the United States?

-    Which states rarely collaborate with the United States on cyber-diplomacy?

-    Does co-membership in certain types of institutions (e.g., bilateral consultations) make states more likely to engage in other types of institutions (e.g., treaties)?

-    In which area of cyberspace policy (e.g., cybersecurity, cybercrime, Internet freedom, etc.) does the United States conduct the most cyber-diplomacy?

-    Are there any key attributes that characterize frequent or infrequent cyber-diplomacy interactions?

HypothesisThose states that engage in bilateral cyber-diplomacy consultations likely also participate in broader regional and/or multilateral institutions. States with similar co-membership behavior in cyber-diplomacy institutions likely also share common attributes (e.g., region, Internet freedom, etc.).  

Data: I will construct a dataset of U.S. cyber-diplomacy activities primarily from State Department sources. The State Departments’ International Cyberspace Policy Strategy provides a particularly rich set of information on cyber-diplomacy activities undertaken since S/CCI’s creation in 2011. Other helpful State Department sources include the Cyber @ State Dept Twitter account and the DipNote blog, which both provide information about cyber-related meetings that S/CCI has attended with other states. To complement these sources, I will also search news and academic sources for more information about any relevant bilateral, regional, and/or multilateral meetings and organizations. After identifying the relevant cyber-diplomacy activities (i.e., meetings and organizations), I will record the states involved, the actual/estimated dates of those activities, their regions, the type of cyberspace policy (e.g., cybersecurity vs. cybercrime), number of Internet users, and Freedom House's ranking of Internet freedom.

Examining the Network: I will focus my analysis on a series of one-mode networks in which countries are connected by a) bilateral, b) regional, and c) multilateral meetings and organizations. To examine the full landscape, I will overlay these networks to form a single one-mode network, as well. Having a two-mode network connecting countries to particular meetings and organizations will also be helpful in constructing the one-mode networks, as a way to mark the groupings of states with their respective institutions. All of the ties will be reciprocal in these networks.

I will use network measures to establish the following:

-    Frequent/Infrequent Collaborators: Looking at the number of ties (i.e., the number of shared activities) between states will help identify which states are frequent/infrequent collaborators, as well as point to diagnosing whether co-membership in one type of activity correlates with co-membership in another type of activity.

-    Key Players: Comparing the Eigenvector, betweenness, and degree scores for these states will help establish which states are the most influential (either as existing or emerging leaders), as well as bridges that could bring together distinct groups of states. 
-    Subgroups/Cliques: Understanding whether there are subgroups/cliques within the larger network would help highlight areas of future possible cooperation by noting those countries that have already established strong ties, as well as those that are not closely linked.   
In addition, I will examine the attribute data (i.e., states' regions, type of cyberspace policy, Internet users, and Internet freedom) for clues of homophily (i.e., that states with similar attributes have similar networking behaviors). Doing so could help illuminate which types of states would be beneficial partners in the future, as cyber-diplomacy efforts expand further.

Conclusion: The current cyber-diplomacy landscape contains various kinds of norm-promoting institutions and regimes. Having a better understanding of how they connect states, in terms of frequency and type of connection, could help S/CCI and other U.S. Government agencies working in this area to pinpoint relationships that need more or less attention, thereby enabling effective use of resources. 

Other Relevant Studies: There has been other social network analysis work on international institutions (e.g., on environmental regimes and administering the Nile River Basin), though this effort will add to that literature by exploring international cooperation regarding cyberspace, for which I have not yet identified a similar study. 

1 comment:

Christopher Tunnard said...

As we've discussed, this is ambitious, but you won't really know how much until you dig into it. You've thought it through nicely, and, although the networks are simple in connectivity, a rich attribute data set and judicious use of subgroup analysis should give you something interesting to say. You'll benefit from working with someone who's doing a similar project. (Abraham, perhaps?)