Cultures are Built on Fiction
“Cultures are built on fiction.” A statement made by Ashton Kutcher at one of the largest cybersecurity events in the world. More than likely, your initial thought is that you disagree. I did. But let’s break down his statement to help us understand how this belief can actually help create an Internet Culture for minimizing cybercrime.
Cultures are formed based on legal documents like the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution or religious doctrines like the Bible or Quran. These narratives, built by men, form the conscious society around which we live. What makes these social norms a necessity? A historical metaphor I like to use is the difference between the United States and the Wild West in the late 1800s. The western territories were given the nickname “Wild” because they did not adhere to the rest of the U.S. culture. People in the Wild West did not have social norms defined for them. They had a degree of understanding but it was really up to lawmakers and the community to accept and define judgments placed on actions within the territory. Without legal doctrines that define the culture, people in the Wild West were more likely do break laws and get away with them. It wasn’t until these territories became states that the Constitution defined what is acceptable and unacceptable.
What does the Wild West have to do with Cyber Security?
The Internet is a new territory, under which the entire world lives. Cybercriminals are the gunslingers of this new territory. They are highly effective criminal organizations in a territory without defined social norms. Like gunslingers, they are able to take advantage of a lawless culture that has yet to create a world-wide doctrine to live by. When we don’t fully understand our new territory (technology), we lack the ability to properly form judgments against activities that are created from it and people will take advantage. It isn’t until a doctrine is formed that we can then expose and collect on judgments of our society.
Why hasn’t a doctrine been created already?
We currently don’t know what the rules are for the Internet. We don’t have a truly defined law for governing and developing the Internet Culture for the entire World. We haven’t created them because we don’t know all the ways in which cybercriminals will take advantage of the new technology frontier. However, more recent patterns like ransomware have given us a more promising understanding for finally defining “criminal” behavior. You can also account for the fact that we have a degree of understanding because of our current cultural norms. With so many different cultural differences, society norms across the world will have to compromise for the Internet, and it’s up to the citizens of the world to make it happen. Once accepted, no single cultural creation will have ever affected as many people.
Who should create the doctrine?
Uber and Lyft utilized technology to redefine a norm within transportation. The new cultural shift in transportation brought us into an undefined landscape. Unfortunately, the government is taking the role in defining this new territory by limiting its ability. We can’t innovate successfully when the government is pinning us down. Government officials aren’t the experts in the space, and therefore, should not be creating the doctrine by which we develop our social norms for technology. They should be there to enforce and bring judgment against those that break the laws set forth by a group of experts that understand the new frontier.
Where do we go from here?
It is up to us to come together and take responsibility for developing and accepting the Internet culture before the government does it for us. I’m hopeful that our technology thought leaders throughout the world will step up and create this doctrine that can then be presented to and accepted by government entities around the world. We must create a conscious society around the web before we can limit cybercrime.
Written by: Eric Edmonds, Netrix LLC