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Title: Moral manoeuvres : cybersecurity in Egypt and the Gulf states
Author: Shires, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 2743
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Cybersecurity is a complex and contested issue in international politics. The existence of radically different conceptions of cybersecurity is recognised by many scholars in International Relations (IR), but rarely explored outside the cyber 'great powers': the US, the EU, Russia and China. This thesis investigates cybersecurity in Egypt and the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a region between two poles of internet governance that has close military and security ties to the US and Europe and authoritarian features more reminiscent of Russia or China. Given this hybrid position, the research question of this thesis is: how can we explain the nature of cybersecurity in Egypt and the Gulf states? This question is not merely academic, as it directly affects the creation of international agreements, laws and institutions, as well as corporate and state surveillance practices. The thesis argues that cybersecurity is primarily an expert discourse incorporating both technical and value claims. The content of this discourse - who cybersecurity protects from what - is ambiguous due to both professional incentives and technological characteristics. Relevant actors use this ambiguity to perform what I call 'moral manoeuvres': altering values and technical concepts within this professional discourse for their own ends. I identify four separate moral manoeuvres, which I call alignment, appropriation, manipulation and elision. These manoeuvres are performed by human rights NGOs, government organisations, international surveillance suppliers, and the wider cybersecurity industry respectively. The overall result of these moral manoeuvres is the preservation and even amplification of contradictions and ambiguities present in expert cybersecurity discourses. This thesis makes three original contributions to IR: first, it provides a more nuanced account of the construction of security domains than critical theories of securitisation; second, it explains struggles over values in cybersecurity better than alternative accounts of 'cyber norms'; and third, it presents detailed empirical data on an important region and issue area with few existing treatments.
Supervisor: Hall, Todd H. ; Kello, Lucas ; Deighton, Anne Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International relations