What Does Information Security Mean in a Democracy?

My understanding is that authoritarian regimes take information security very seriously. To these regimes, information security involves controlling information that can be a threat to the regime–e.g., information that reveals corruption or violation of human rights. But democratic countries should also care about information security, too–albeit using a different definition. In democratic societies, I think information security should involve protecting public discourse from malicious information warfare, while ensuring that accurate information plays a central role in the discourse. Who will be doing the “protecting?” In my view, the independent press will play a key role in this, and possibility academics and think-tanks. Here are some quick thoughts about this:

1. We need to have a national discussion, reaffirming the importance of fact-based opinions that rely on sound arguments. Part of the discussion should involve defining and clarifying these concepts. We should also have a discussion about what constitutes poor arguments and the reasons conspiracy theories are dangerous;

2. We should think of the free press as vital to our national security. Our democracy depends on a strong, independent free press–one that operates with high journalistic standards and has a steady flow of resources. Ideally, I’d want to find a way to devote resources that aren’t so commercial in nature.

3. We may need to think of creating different institutions, tools, or methods to help insure information security.

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4. Idea: Offline project. Create news parties or discussion groups, targeting people on social media. Organizers would discuss information warfare, current false stories, etc. This offline projects can make individual citizens more resilient to information warfare.

5. Create scorecards for news agencies and journalists–that are posted on the internet and follow the avatars/accounts of both on social media. Scorecard will reflect how closely they live up on journalistic standards. Agencies or journalists that have a history of blatant propaganda and lies can also receive such a designation as well; there can also labels that reflect various degrees of this.

6. Scorecards could be made up by a professional journalism organization, like a bar association or professional guild. The organization should be made up of a diverse group–politically, socially, economically, ethnically, etc. (Various nations and politicians can be scores as well.)

Both #5 and #6 are ways to creating filters with credibility. The institutions and individuals that have a history of good, reliable journalism deserve more trust (not blind trust), and the scorecards are a way for individuals to identify these groups and indivdiuals.

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