Regulating the technological actor : how governments tried to transform the technology and the market for cryptography and cryptographic services and the implications for the regulation of information and communications technologies
The formulation, adoption, and transformation of policy involves the interaction of actors as they negotiate, accept, and reject proposals. Traditional studies of policy discourse focus on social actors. By studying cryptography policy discourses, I argue that considering both social and technological actors in detail enriches our understanding of policy discourse. The case-based research looks at the various cryptography policy strategies employed by the governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The research method is qualitative, using hermeneutics to elucidate the various actors’ interpretations. The research aims to understand policy discourse as a contest of principles involving various government actors advocating multiple regulatory mechanisms to maintain their surveillance capabilities, and the reactions of industry actors, non-governmental organisations, parliamentarians, and epistemic communities. I argue that studying socio-technological discourse helps us to understand the complex dynamics involved in regulation and regulatory change. Interests and alignments may be contingent and unstable. As a result, technologies can not be regarded as mere representations of social interests and relationships. By capturing the interpretations and articulations of social and technological actors we may attain a better understanding of the regulatory landscape for information and communications technologies.