Cyberspace Sovereignty: Is it a thing now?
India escalated its conflict with China this week when it banned 50 Chinese apps from use inside India. These apps include Tiktok, WeChat, and other popular Chinese apps that have become part of everyday life.
India claims that the Chinese companies are violating India's cyberspace sovereignty by sending user data to Chinese intelligence and government officials, a practice that all Chinese technology companies deny.
It's nothing new to accuse China of poor tech practices, particularly when it comes to user data. However, the term "Cyberspace Sovereignty" has been reserved for use by autocratic regimes. We hear it uttered when a country wants to censor speech and restrict access to information. India's application is the first time we've heard the phrase used as a mode of defense from perceived hostility by a foreign government, and it won't be the last.
The last 15 years have been all about the openness of the internet and how it should be a neutral technology that unites countries. That's all changing as the internet has gone from "useful technology" to the very lifeblood of a country's security and economic stability.
China has been vocal about India's ban and its claim of cyber sovereignty, but they don't have much credibility in this area. China deploys a firewall that keeps the rest of the world out. They also ban the most popular technology used by the western world and mandate that their citizens use homegrown tech. One engineering firm horrifyingly reverse engineered Tiktok this week and showed that their code is essentially a walking spy app.
While supporters of China claim these types of characterizations are blatant xenophobia...the evidence is overwhelming. That's just on the tech side. We haven't even touched on human rights abuse.
We're going to hear more countries making claims of cyberspace sovereignty over the next few years.