There is no doubt that there is an enormous amount of disruption when it comes to Policy, Government, and Security. Every single day we are seeing new articles, tv reports, podcasts, and blogs that discuss the disruptive nature and inclinations for our future society with regards to our government. Whether it is a new Big Tech scheme, a phishing attack, or a political regulation, it is paramount that we remain aware of the potential signals, trends, and plausible scenarios that could potentially arise in the future. In order to find out exactly how to prepare for these future disruptions it is very important that we focus on four specific areas that fall under the policy, government, and security bubble: antitrust, cyber security, cyber warfare, and political radicalization. What is so unique about these areas? How will this specific areas affect us? What can we do to prevent certain experiences?
Antitrust has been widely regarded as one of if not the most important legal aspect of our free market economy. Antitrust law is a collection of mostly federal laws that regulate the conduct and organization of businesses to promote competition and prevent unjustified monopolies. In today’s time, it is very obvious to see how our legal system will likely need to go through various changes before we have a firm grasp on the disruptions present in our society. With regard to antitrust there is a large number of disruptive issues arising from Big Tech. Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Meta have all been targeted for reducing competition and even and establishing themselves as monopolized firms. Everyday Google is storing information based on your location, search history, purchase history, and emails. Google is also collecting data about how consumers use there apps, devices, and services. This ranges from your browsing behavior, Gmail and YouTube activity, location history, Google searches, online purchases, and more. Essentially, anything that’s connected to Google is likely used to collect data on your activity and preferences. The reason that this relates to antitrust is because Google is taking all of this data and selling it to third party vendors who have the goal of marketing to people who search for their specific things. Since these companies have so much market control it makes is very difficult for small incoming businesses to begin their journey. This then leads us into “cloud” neutrality. Most modern tech companies are paying to outsource its computer services with the goal of incubating and hosting their competition. In terms of where we are heading when it comes to antitrust in big tech we can predict that these companies will be able to cover the world with data centers and prevent smaller firms from competing in the market. We predict that Apple and Microsoft will eventually transform from consumer products companies to consumer lifestyle companies where they knock all competitors out of the market by creating their own versions of all essential goods.
When it comes to the ethical perspective of antitrust there is most definitely various decisions being made within financial institutions that violate antitrust laws. The FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice recognize that association ethics codes can serve many legitimate purposes. The agencies will scrutinize codes that directly or indirectly prevent members from competing against each other. It would most definitely be ethical for companies to receive a more in depth overview of specific antitrust laws as well as prohibited conduct. If companies are notified ahead of time about new antitrust practices they will be less likely to potentially steal data from consumers. We also find that it would be ethical for companies to require that any committee or staff recommendations or decisions that potentially affect the market are reviewed in advance by in-house or outside counsel. We feel that this would be a good future implication with regards to the conduct of activity and ethical frameworks for the future.
For social implications of antitrust this relates primarily to our research on healthcare. When it comes to antitrust in healthcare the FTC aims to keep health care markets as competitive as possible because consumers will benefit from lower costs. Despite this, modern antitrust laws are not preventing hospital mergers. In today’s time COPA’s (Certificate of Public Advantage) are used to govern a Cooperative Agreement (a merger) among two or more hospitals. While this might seem like a good thing, states are having a very difficult time monitoring these COPA’s. We feel that a new organization gets formed that specifically focuses on a deal’s impact on the environment and jobs. This factor could play a role in US enforcement agencies’ decisions on which transactions deserve their resources for investigation.
Culture is a very unique area of antitrust mainly because of how people’s morals and values have changed over the years. People’s beliefs and feelings can determine whether certain antitrust policies are acceptable based on one’s own cultural background. Many individuals feel that specific financial institutions are becoming too powerful. The reason for this is that certain industry practices are becoming new regulatory practices In other words, the ideas, and practices that these institutions implement are slowly but surely becoming aligned industry wide. As a result, these massive firms will maintain certain monopolistic power that will prevent other firms from entering the playing field. This so called idea of culture capture is when public officials are implementing practices that are “pro-industry.” It appears that there are various antitrust officials who develop interpersonal relationships with senior competition officials. Because of these so called interpersonal relationships it is likely that many of these firms have specific ties to lawyers, consultants, civil servants, lobbyists, and judges. We are able to conclude that there is a risk that anti-interventionist positions arguably held by antitrust practitioners may exert a disproportionate influence on the mindset of competition officials. We suggest that the FTC and the DOJ implement new antitrust practices that specifically focus on adopting more aggressive measures. Specifically, we feel that antitrust enforcement needs to be based on an analytically sound, fact-based framework whose primary focus is to create a more competitive market and destroy these so called rational actors trying to maximize their own wellbeing.
Lastly, politics are a very important area for future antitrust disruptions. For as long as we can remember, antitrust has been an important factor when presidents, government officials, and local statesman run for their respective positions. The worry about the concentration of wealth and power achieved by monopolistic and potentially monopolistic entities has always been wrapped up in each respective era’s technological innovations. Lately, President Biden has been pushing for a more robust antitrust regulatory framework with the goal of determining how big is “to big.” President Biden has stated, “Robust competition is critical to preserving America’s role as the world’s leading economy.” Agriculture, health care, telecommunications, financial services, and global shipping are all areas that our leaders have to address due to a scarcity in competition. Based on our research we feel that establishing antimonopoly principles are the only way to go about fixing these tremendous areas of our economy. For example, if Google acquired Meta (Facebook) it would not necessarily be a horizontal merger. It’s not a multinational merger. It’s not a vertical merger. However, because of the data, there will be significant competitive consequences as a result. The first thing we need to identify is what are the potential risks in a data-driven economy? Data analytics are a primary source for financial firms, sports teams, local businesses, and world trends. There is no doubt that our political world will be impacted by antitrust in the future and we must do everything we can to eliminate major mergers and acquisitions from taking over the market. By targeting this issue at the state level, we are guaranteed to see improvements quickly and trend in the right direction.
Cyber Security / Cyber Warfare
There are two different ways that the legal and ethical perspectives of hacking in cybersecurity can be determined. The first implication is that hacking for one’s own benefit is illegal and unethical. Bad actors have no ethical conduct and do not care who they affect long term and short term when they breach someone’s privacy. Hacking is a serious violation of the law and can lead to vicious legal consequences. The consequences are all dependent on the damage rendered or what was stolen from the victim. Any type of cybersecurity hacking instance is classified as a misdemeanor or felony white- collar crime. The criminal penalties include jail or prison time, criminal fines and retribution, and even the victims can seek civil damages. Victims could potentially receive monetary damage awards for lost profits. On the other hand, there are legal implications where phishing can be legal and ethical in terms of education. Not everyone today is up to date on the dangers of phishing, hacking, and the over ways to stay safe online. Companies testing employee’s knowledge on cybersecurity and cyber safety through phishing emails is legal and ethical because it helps be preventative before an actual phishing situation can occur. Employees should be regularly trained and tested on the measures of cybersecurity to not only keep the company safe, but also themselves safe.
While hacking is the most common term brought into people’s heads when discussing this topic, there are other legal and ethical components that are not talked about all that much – those are user confidentiality and security. Cybersecurity experts are expected to monitor, protect, and secure our systems and information from bad actors who misuse them. We automatically trust these people to safeguard our information and systems, but should we? Confidentiality is seen as a ethical issue in the field, and security professionals, by the nature of the industry, will see and handle all different types of personal, private, or proprietary information that is meant to be kept sternly confidential. There is no surprise that temptation exists to those who want to reveal the juicy details they unearthed either while scanning someone’s hard drive or running a virus scan, but it could come with hefty consequences. Security also becomes an ethical issue, and yes, it is a part of the name of the field, but if all of us on a regular basis are supposed to follow appropriate cyber safe procedures during our everyday lives, cybersecurity professionals must do those times a thousand. Most people leave their computers unattended or do not bother to perform system updates and can easily get away with it, but for people in the industry, it considered unethical since they are the ones who are most obliged to keep all their devices, data, and networks as secure as possible. From a legal perspective, if one were to swipe and share confidential documentation of a business’ shady practices to law enforcement or social media, you might think you have done a good thing, but others could see it differently. It comes to show that many cybersecurity issues get tangled up with privacy concerns and become a dilemma no one wants to attack. Cybersecurity professionals are meant to defend us when bad actors threaten our electronic systems. Ransomware and identify theft are two breaches of confidentiality that violate a user’s privacy, and cybersecurity is intended to prevent and protect us from ever happening. Organizations and their employees of all stages deal with client personal information daily, and they are ethically responsible for keeping that information sealed from bad actors. When a company’s security is weak, they are mostly at fault for not having a secure internal and external infrastructure to keep the hackers out. Furthermore, in a world where unauthorized access is a fact of life, we need to ensure we have the proper security measures to protect our devices, data, and networks; but sometimes the security we use to protect our privacy becomes a ethical or legal violation instead.
It is no secret that cybercrime is on the rise; most of us put our entire lives out on the internet and even with marking our social media pages as “private” they never truly are. Even if you like a public post, anyone can see that you liked it even though your account profile is not visible. Plus, your information is not private internally with social media. All the information you submit to create a social media profile can be seen by internal workers viewing your profile for security purposes. So, if you really want to remain anonymous on social media, how about just staying off it completely?
Most people have been aware of the continuing cyber conflicts occurring within Russia and Ukraine, along with companies like Uber and Medi Bank being breached, has set off an alarm in their heads to begin taking cybersecurity measures more seriously in order to prevent their data and privacy from being exploited in the future. The sad truth is many people have realized they are not up to date in protecting their data online and it puts them at higher risk of being targeted for cyber-attacks. Two of the most common forms of attacks are the ones that have a indirect contaact on people’s lives and ones that target specific people due to their technological skillset. It has become even easier for bad actors to target anyone in the world regardless of geographical location since technology has become more and more advanced. While staying cybersecure may sound extremely technical, it is not hard at all, as some of the easiest forms of staying cyber safe are below:
- Examining links and attachments closely for malicious content before clicking on them
- Confirming with recipients on a second line of communication that they are looking to obtain certain information from you before sharing it directly
- Create and obtain secure passwords
- Always keep physical objects regardless of technicality close to you
- Ensure devices and servers are up to date
- Install regular backups (especially critical files)
- Encrypt or delete sensitive information (credit cards and security questions in particular)
- Always report suspicious activity
The CISA, also known as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, leads a national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to our cyber and physical infrastructure around the globe. Their website contains a list of the top four items that each person should take into consideration if they are serious about protecting their digital and informational blueprint:
- Turning on Multifactor Authentication, when possible, for more secure sign-ons (99% of accounts are less susceptible to future hacks when multifactor authentication is enabled)
- Updating Software and Applications, and if applicable, utilizing automatic updates
- “Think Before You Click” and examining email bodies and headers carefully to ensure you are not the target of a phishing attack (Over 90% of successful cyber-attacks begin with phishing)
- Use Strong Passwords that are long and mixed with different characters and symbols will make it more difficult to hackers to crack the codes
It is also important to note that with two-factor and multifactor authentication facial recognition AI technology uses our genetic makeup as an additional password. The question becomes: when will facial recognition become the first layer password? No need for words and numbers and characters to make up a password when you have your own identity? But also, would it be possible for hackers to imitate our genetic makeup and structural patterns through facial recognition technology? It is very much possible with cloning technology, even though we would never want that to be the case. The only way to know this for certain is to see if it does become a breaking news headline on national media. Staying up to date on all cybersecurity matters can be as easy as keeping up with the news like you do with your favorite sports team. The goal in society should be to decrease our vulnerability significantly so bad actors cannot make us their next victim.
It may be hard to believe, but some cultures find cyber-attacks to be ethical. As is the case of any economic activity, cultural factors are tightly linked to cybercrimes, cyberattacks and cybersecurity. Just like any other activities, some forms of cybercrime may be more acceptable in some cultures than in others. For some categories of cyber offenses, cultural factors appear to play more important roles than other environmental factors. In countries like Russia, hacking is considered ethical because it benefits their countries strength and power not only in the cyber space, but also the war space. Blau, a Russian hacker-turned-teacher, describes how he and his friend’s hacked programs and distributed them for free during their childhood: “It was like our donation to society, it was a form of honor; [we were] like Robin Hood bringing programs to people.” From this, it can be argued that culture and ethical attitudes may be a more crucial factor in driving software piracy as well as several other cybercrimes than the levels of economic development.
Another cultural aspect of cyber security is the divide in technological capabilities in the population. Some individuals are more susceptible to cyber-attacks due to a lack of education and resources made available to them. Often the divide is seen in communities that tend to have less funding for education. While some schools, especially K-12, have designated programs to teach about the internet and computers, others with less funding do not receive these resources. This digital divide will be an important factor in the future of cybersecurity and the attitudes that individuals hold will vary vastly. Another cultural aspect of cyberwarfare is the different ways in which governments will utilize their cyber capabilities. Some governments have evidently shown that they use their cyber resources as offense from a tactical standpoint while other counties use their resources mainly for defense. Countries are subject to change in the coming years as inevitably global conflicts will arise.
From a political perspective, cyber warfare is becoming one of the most prevalent methods of enacting warfare amongst developed nations. In terms of strength, although the United States has the greatest overall power, countries like China, Russia, The United Kingdom, and other well-developed nations are becoming increasingly competitive in cyber capability. As we have seen in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (almost a case study for what the future of warfare will look like) it has become increasingly more apparent that governments will have to strengthen their capabilities in cyber defense. Looking at said conflict, we can identify the importance that telecom services provide for both militaries and civilians in conflict zones and how current trends indicate that those services are attacked the most both physically and in cyber space. In this conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest telecom company has faced a brutal attack on their servers through DDoS attacks as well as physical missile strikes on their centers. Astonishingly, Kyivstar has been successful at fending of these attacks thanks to their tireless staff as well as a volunteer coalition of about 260,000 individuals known as the “IT Army” which has defended servers and launched counter attacks on Russian infrastructure, most notably their successful attack on the Moscow Exchange. The methods in which both countries are attacking and defending networks are somewhat unprecedented, and other countries are now looking internally to see how they would match up against other countries in a potential conflict. The United States government has allocated an additional 2.6 billion dollars in funding for cyberwarfare and cybersecurity and that funding is expected to grow continuously over the years.
Another political trend we have discovered is the actions that individuals and individual groups could potentially have in global cyber conflicts. As we have seen in the past with non-country action in global conflict such as Al Qaeda on 9/11, we are beginning to see an increase in individual, non-state sponsored actions in the realm of cyber space. In the Ukraine conflict, Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX and other various tech companies, has continued to provide internet service to Ukraine through the satellite system Starlink despite not receiving any sort of compensation or financial assistance from the United States, NATO Allies or Ukraine. This goes to show that someone with wealth and resources can intervene in major global conflicts without any sort of permissions or repercussions. Luckily, in this case the service is benefiting victims of the conflict, however, there could just as easily be individual actors who could interfere in ways negatively. In the future, cyber-attacks and other acts of global terror will most indefinitely be carried out through the realm of cyber space. Cyber-attacks can be carried out with ease in almost any part of the world, and attacking a country online makes it incredibly hard to trace attackers adds and additional layer of confusion and chaos. Similarly, cyber-attacks are becoming more and more advanced and new technology such as AI has been implemented into cyber attacks only adding more cause for concern amongst governments.
From a legal perspective, political radicalization can be an incredibly difficult aspect of our society to regulate, and constitutional protections exist that protect radicals up to a certain point. The First Amendment holds that Congress cannot make laws that either establishes religion or a prohibits individuals from exercising freely the religion of their choice, and also holds that Congress cannot abridge “the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Lines are drawn in the sand that clearly define what is allowed and what isn’t under the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects the right to use specific words and phrases considered to be offensive that deliver political messages (Cohen v. California), the right to contribute money to political campaigns under specific circumstances (Buckley v. Valeo), and to participate in symbolic speech such as by burning the flag in protest (Texas v. Johnson), among other things. The First Amendment, however, does not protect the inciting of lawless action that is imminent (Brandenburg v. Ohio), and the burning of draft cards while protesting war (United States v. O’Brien), among other things. There are clear limits to the First Amendment, and oftentimes radicals toe the line very carefully to avoid being arrested and potentially charged. The government may only attempt to regulate speech’s content if it can provide a considerable amount of justification for interference with the right to free speech, as required by the Supreme Court. Because of this, many radical beliefs shared on the internet must be left alone, as they do not expressly harm others, although they do open up the possibility to incite violence under tense circumstances. Political radicalization was demonstrated following the 2020 election, where radicals continued to deny the results of the election. January 6th insurrection of the United States Capital interrupted a joint session of Congress while they were actively affirming the 2020 election results. As a result, the government took legal action and began to investigate after the losses that occurred on January 6th that, which added up to $1.5 million worth of damage. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the FBI’s Washington Field Office have investigated and prosecuted those responsible for the attack and more than 725 arrests have been made throughout the country. The criminal charges include assault, resisting or impending officers and employees, using deadly or dangerous weapons, causing bodily injury to an officer, assaulting a member of the media, destroying equipment of the media, entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds, theft or destruction of government property, and conspiracy, among other crimes. Because of the severity of the insurrection, the FBI reached out to the community to help catch the “Most Wanted.” National security was threatened, and in order to bring justice, social media and the internet were used to do so.
From an ethical perspective, political radicalization can be quite divisive within society. Sympathizers, supporters, activists, and radicals all believe that they are ethically sound in their approaches to politics, as do non-radicals, because everyone holds a unique set of beliefs and stands by them. Throughout the radicalization process, sympathizers join a group or organization and slowly begin to identify with the beliefs and views of the group or organization. Indoctrination quickly follows and grooming begins, eventually leading the individual towards the terrorism stage and turning sympathizers into radicals. Through the radicalization process, ethics begin to warp, as individuals begin to believe radical views and right and wrong become blurred in comparison to previous definitions. Because all knowledge is provisional, the beliefs that we hold closely to ourselves may very well be wrong, thus the moral intensity of a situation must be weighed when acting against something within society. The reality for many radicals is that ethically, they believe their beliefs so strongly, that they view them as what is right and what should be fought for. Everyone has their own set of ethics to drive them, and ethics change the world in the process. In the 1950s, the civil rights movement was considered to be a radical movement for the times, although most United States citizens today deem it to have been a necessary, just, and morally sound movement. The civil rights movement affected the fundamental nature of society, as it attempted to fight the Jim Crow tyranny present in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr.’s beliefs, once considered to be radical, are now held in high regard as being the driving force behind the man who championed civil rights. Following the January 6th insurrection, Donald Trump was dubbed as the man responsible for inciting it all, and has been characterized as a radical by many. As the lame duck president following the 2020 election, Donald Trump was subpoenaed by the House of Representative’s Select Committee, which acquired enough evidence to reasonably believe that he had orchestrated the January 6th insurrection personally, that he had overseen the vast effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, and that he attempted to obstruct the peaceful transition of power to President Joseph Biden. Claiming election fraud, Donald Trump has become the radical of our decade, and the question remains, did he act ethically? This question alone divides society, and ethics are questioned by all.
From a social perspective, political radicalization creates many social issues that are hotly debated. Legal precedents previously set by the Supreme Court are often called into question by radicals, and rights begin to be questioned. Following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reproductive rights were called into question as Roe v. Wade was overturned. Roe v. Wade established the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion, and was protected for almost 50 years. Six out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic Conservatives, and through Dobbs v. Jackson, they held that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and called into question the reproductive rights of women. This created an anxious social climate, as many communities began to fear for other rights protected under other Supreme Court precedents. Major fears surround precedents that are not associated with the typical Catholic Conservative view points and those that are not rooted in originalist values. Same-sex couples worry about the right to marry whomever they please, which was protected in 2015 under Obergefell v. Hodges. Interracial couples also worry about the right to marry whomever they please, which was protected in 1967 under Loving v. Virginia. Families of brain-dead patients that wish for them to be removed from life-support fear for that right, which was protected in 1990 under Cruzan v. Missouri Department of Health. Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states sprang into action to protect women’s reproductive rights, while others had trigger bans in place ready for the moment the Supreme Court decision was released. The eagerness to restrict reproductive rights caused extreme concern for many, as they wonder what the future will look like. These three cases are similar to Roe v. Wade, because they all concern private decisions made in the best interest of the individual, and fears for the rights protected under them grew following the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. The fear that other rights are next to be overturned creates an anxiety for individuals, whose lives now hang in the balance. Socially, this also divides our country, as activist supporting reproductive rights, and activists fighting against reproductive rights clash as they both attempt to assert their beliefs as the correct one to have.
From a cultural perspective, the beliefs we hold are engrained within each of us, and stem from our upbringings. Many parents believe that the way they model their views affects their children’s views, and thus attempt to either make their children act as they do or be what they wished they had been. For many parents, they take this as a mission, and attempt to indoctrinate their children with their chosen political viewpoints. Research, however, has shown that by pushing your children to believe the same ideologies as you do, you actually grow the chance that they will rebel politically in the future. While in some cases children do grow up and keep the beliefs of their parents, a study published by the British Journal of Political Science, has demonstrated that “parents who are insistent that their children adopt their political views inadvertently influence their children to abandon the belief once they become adults.” in these instances, the apple does fall far from the tree, as rebellion becomes a central theme. Children who are raised in households where politics are discussed in abundance discuss it outside the home at higher rates than those who do not. This exposes them to new viewpoints that begin to formulate new ideas in their heads, and allows them to adopt those views at higher rates as well. The possibility for radicalization is strongly with children who were raised in households with strong political views, and often use rebellion as a stepping stone for future radicalization. Many children who are raised in apolitical households tend to lean towards apoliticism and usually radicalize at lower rates than children who are raised in highly political families. Parents also tend to react very strongly to their children’s extreme ideals, either rejecting, applauding, ignoring, or discussing them. Very few parents discuss the extreme beliefs, ideals, and values of their children with them, because of a feeling of powerlessness, a necessity to disassociate from the situation, an occupation with other issues, the belief that it’s just a phase, and the feeling that their reaction will have no effect on the situation. This is largely due to the fact that parents struggle to deal with their children’s radicalization and don’t know how to properly react. It’s sometimes easier to ignore the situation than to address it, which leads to children’s increased radicalization and their effect on society.
From a political perspective, political radicalization divides over society to the extreme and threatens our democracy. The January 6th insurrection of the United States capital came to largely because of a culmination of political polarization that is deeply engraining into our country. The increased acceptance of conspiracy and extremist views contributed to the increase in polarization, and gradually built up throughout the years. Almost twenty percent of those arrested were tied to extremist groups or fringe groups such as QAnon and the Proud Boys, and at a time where distrust in the media and in elections had been building up over the years, the timing seemed to line up for radical violence to take place. The United States was recently classified as a “backsliding democracy,” and the most concerning part of the United States’ democracy is the existence of “runaway polarization,” which has continued to divide the perception of events along partisan lines. The concern right now is to avoid the point of no return for American democracy, at which polarization can never be reversed. The two types of polarization, political polarization, and belief polarization, both have very different effects in society. Political polarization is a frustrating concept sometimes, but it is not entirely negative, because it creates the ability for voters and policymakers to have true choices. Conflicting opinions actually make it easier to find the truth, whereas belief polarization has more negative effects. Belief polarization (also known as group polarization), tends to create more of a groupthink, mob mentality scenario. When interacting with like-minded individuals, people become versions of themselves that are more extreme, confident, and better prepared to act more riskily. This leads to intense negative feelings towards those who have differing views and causes a shift towards extremism. This creates a gap between radical individuals and non-radical individuals, which keeps widening due to a lack of trust and an overabundance of animosity towards the others’ beliefs, views, and ideas. On both end of the political spectrum, individuals put themselves into boxes and conform to them, which doesn’t allow for easy disagreement resolution. With this situation, citizens begin to believe that democracy cannot be possible without everyone else agreeing, which is at the very roots antidemocratic.