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'Prism' burns America's Internet supremacy

(People's Daily Online)

15:12, July 16, 2013

Edited and Translated by Zhang Qian, People's Daily Online

Finally, Snowden has made his reappearance. Speculation concerning his whereabouts has excited considerable media attention around the world, but this should not become a pretext for avoiding the hard questions around the Prism event. Washington still owes a reasonable explanation to a lot of countries, including China. And Washington is not going to find it easy to control the fallout from Prism - this will spread, and become a new driver for building up the Internet order.

In essence, this event reflects the extension of international relations in the real world to the virtual Internet world. Its more profound significance lies in the growing connection between security in the virtual world and the real world, therefore it also has a profound influence over real world security.

However, no matter how virtual the virtual world is, it will also be influenced by changing trends in the modern world. The Internet cannot survive and prosper while violating the fundamental laws of global development; it must still be bound by the restrictions of the real world. A certain consensus has formed in the process by which international relations have evolved in the real world, and this consensus applies too in the virtual world. The Internet cannot be run according to the law of the jungle; it cannot be abused by a single dominant power, even if that power has the technological means to do so.

While the transforming world order is now in the process of casting off the obsolete standards of the past, the old hegemony in international relations, with its accompanying "winner takes all" mentality where strength determines what is rational, still retains a certain hold. This inevitably tempts some powers with a significant advantage in Internet technology to extend such principles to the virtual world. Not only does this approach create a new chaos in the virtual world, it also poses a threat to the peace of the real world.

Read the Chinese version: “棱镜”灼痛美国网络霸权; source: People's Daily Overseas Edition, author: Ding Gang

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