Pandemic casts a long ‘digital shadow’ as information warfare spikes
Clamping down on autocrats running the internet must be high on the upcoming G7 summit’s to-do list
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us two sides of technological progress. There’s the positive side that’s delivered safe and effective vaccines in record time, helped economies with new stay-at-home online tools and improved disease surveillance and public health.
And there’s the negative side that’s turbocharged malicious actors’ and authoritarian regimes’ disinformation campaigns, hacking and disruption of opponents, and fostered a rise in public harms like ransomware attacks and fraud.
It’s this grim reality that the West must tackle as economies reopen, and the G7 summit next month is a perfect time to do it. Cyber threats have been warned about over the past year, but the scale and reach of the problem are hitting new heights. The US and Europe have accused China and Russia of stepping up information warfare — from Covid-19 conspiracy theories to misleading information about vaccines — and cyberattacks on Western targets, while further restricting their citizens’ liberties at home. Freedom House, which last year found 75% of the world’s population lived in a country experiencing democratic decline, says the pandemic has cast a “digital shadow”...