Experts say China’s New IP ‘should frighten us all’. And then there’s the undersea cable wars…
Imagine trying to manage the impact of the coronavirus without the internet and a robust telecommunications sector. If we couldn’t communicate and transact in real time, economic activity would grind to a halt and social contact would be even more difficult. And there would be no COVIDSafe app, an important tool in the government’s recovery strategy.
Australia is already more wired than most nations, and the digital world is expanding rapidly as the coronavirus has forced business, schools, universities and government services online. Videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom are booming and the much maligned National Broadband Network finally is starting to realise its potential. But if these networks were to become untrustworthy or disrupted for any length of time it would be hard for the country to function effectively.
Fortunately, we are now much better informed and protected from many cyber threats. Passwords, antivirus software and cybersecurity are firmly entrenched in our personal lives and business culture. Governments and telecommunications companies have invested heavily in measures designed to protect overall system security. But these measures may not be enough if China is successful in setting the rules and designing the architecture of a new internet, because the one-party state’s internet vision reflects authoritarian values that are diametrically opposed to ours.