In confidence: Information technology, secrecy and the state

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Stuart Thorson


Information technology, Secrecy, State, Computer crime, Online privacy

Subject Categories

International Relations | Political Science | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The transmission and storage of information in digital form coupled with the widespread proliferation of networked computers has created new issues for policy. An indispensable business tool and knowledge-sharing device, the networked computer is not without vulnerability, including the disruption of service and the theft, manipulation and destruction of electronic data. This thesis conducts an analysis of the security of information resources, asking: how may the state protect dearly held information of individuals, businesses, and government itself from compromise by unauthorized parties? Inquiry is conducted through three thrusts directed at informing the policy analyst of this particular problem and providing instruction with regard to possible remedies. First, an historical analysis of security issues presented by electronic communication since the inception of the telegraph is conducted so as to produce salient points for study of more recently developed computer networks. Second, an overview of vulnerabilities for information technologies provides a primer to the policymakers regarding the myriad issues that encompass information security. Third, a pair of case studies cataloging issue identification and policy response to the problem of compromise of information resources in the United States and South Korea between 1994 and 2001 provides a contextually rich summary of preliminary efforts to meet this emergent issue within the boundaries of the modern, capitalist democracy. In aggregate, this work seeks to provide a footing for the crafting of policy for a set of technologies holding significant and growing importance to the economic and societal well being of the world's most developed nations.


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