Digital Inter-Dependence

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Digital dependence makes countries highly vulnerable to any disruption of data flows. Maintaining data flows worldwide is vital to the social stability, economic well-being, and the growth of countries. For example, the disruption of e-commerce, e-banking, and platform services, such as Airbnb and Uber, could cause great economic disruption. Global geopolitics depends heavily on access to the main internet cables carrying internet traffic between countries and continents. Presently, more than 90% of all global internet traffic flows through submarine cables which mostly follow the old geographical routes used by telegraph cables in the nineteenth century.  Internet cables are a tangible aspect of data geopolitics. Damage to cables can disconnect an entire country from the internet, which can have profound economic and political consequences. In 2008, the cutting of the main internet cables near Alexandria (Egypt) gave us the first glimpse of the consequences for users and businesses in the Gulf region and India. The spread of the new coronavirus is testing our globalised world. Countries are looking at one another with suspicion, once bustling public spaces seem emptier, and many people and organisations are avoiding travel. The world of diplomacy is particularly affected by these developments, as meetings, conferences, and other major events are cancelled. If ever there was a time for governments to get their communications right, it is now. Governments everywhere are under scrutiny for what they say, how accurately they report facts, and what actions they are proposing.

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