Securing Judgement : Rethinking Security and Online Information Threats

Abstract: The contemporary debate in democracies routinely describes online information threats such as misinformation, disinformation and deception as security-issues in need of urgent attention. Despite this pervasive discourse, policymakers often appear incapable of articulating what security means in this context. Turning to EU policy and previous research on cybersecurity, this dissertation empirically unpacks, critically interrogates and theoretically rethinks the meaning of security in relation to online information threats. In so doing, the articles elucidate a new ‘referent object’ implicitly guiding securitization. Contemporary interventions can be seen as grounded in assumptions about the protection of human judgement. Using Hannah Arendt’s writings on ‘political judgement’ as a point of reference for critically evaluating contemporary policy, the dissertation points to several problems with existing approaches to security in a democratic context where free debate constitutes a legitimizing element of political authority. The rethinking of security departs from this problematic and shows that treating human judgement as a ‘referent object’ – if firmly grounded in the interplay between independent human communicating subjects – can better address some problematic questions about legitimate authority and political community currently haunting security interventions in cyberspace.

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