Contested Cyberspace and Rising Powers



July 2017


Hannes Ebert and Tim Maurer


The USA developed and has therefore historically played a lead role in cyberspace. Yet rising powers, including brics , have been increasingly challenging the established regime. China and Russia submitted a joint proposal on information security to the United Nations in 2011. India, Brazil, and South Africa have been focusing on the information society since their 2003 Brasilia Declaration. These initiatives demonstrate that cyberspace has become hotly contested. However, there is still a need to explain this divergence. Are rising powers challenging the USA because of their national interests, the urge to maximise their security, or do factors such as values and political structures explain the different trajectories vis-à-vis the hegemon? This article examines the foreign policies of brics from 1995 to date, explaining the influence of different path-dependent origins, of the systemic shift and the type of political system, together with rising civil society pressure.