Privateers and Modern-day Cyberspace

Cyber Security is an actor-rich area: many different entities influence the security of the various actors. The dynamics of such a space are of special interest to international relations scholars.

In my upcoming talk at Connected Life 2015, I will share from my on-going DPhil research using a historical analogy to mercantile companies, privateers, and pirates to shed light onto the blurred boundaries between state and private interests. The interest will lie on unpacking the challenges such a blurring brings forth, both historically and contemporarily. I will argue that such an analogical perspective allows for a conceptualisation of the grey space of state influence on non-state actors.

The talk is a counterpoint to last year’s presentation at Connected Life by Edward Woodhouse, who looked at internet governance through the lens of the Law of the Seas, starting in the 1960s. I will take a much more expansive view of the analogy, looking at the development of the actors on the seas since the 13th century. This allows us to trace the concurrent technological development, interest in trade, and state exploitation of the new technology over many centuries, arriving at a relatively regulated space in the 1850s.

Using the history of the sea as an inspiration, we can then look again at the actor-rich space of cyber security and ask: are there significant parallels we see in the actor types and might similar dynamics be at play?

For preliminary answers your are invited to come to the presentation or read the Working Paper from March 2015 (link:

Florian Egloff

Florian Egloff is a Clarendon Scholar and DPhil Candidate in Cyber Security at Oxford’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security.