Spring 2021 Lecture series “Security, Democracy and the Digital World” with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Visiting Professor of Democracy in the Digital Age at the University of Tartu, gave a series of lectures on “Security, Democracy and the Digital World” in spring semester 2021. The lecture series was curated by Robert Krimmer, Professor of E-governance, and the Programme Manager for Politics and Governance in the Digital Age Master's Programme.

You can find short overview and the lecture recording below.

17. February 2021. Societal disruption and political transformation.

Key points that are covered in this lecture:

  • C.P. Snow and his theory of parallel processes. Digital governance, minimum standards, security privacy, and two-factor authentication.
  • The widening gap between science/technology and the non-tech community, where technology advances far more rapidly than the legal and regulatory framework that should allow tech.
  • Authoritarian nations do not have to worry about the consent of the governed, privacy and rule of law in the digital sphere. Liberal democracies do.
  • Digitalization is overturning 5000 years of bureaucracy and state management, operation in parallel rather than sequentially/in series. Digital governance and near instantaneous processing require new requirements and safeguards on governance and privacy, where in the paper world none existed.
  • Minimum requirements for secure digital governance, as we have come to understand, depend upon security, privacy and data integrity.
  • Technological advances and widespread access to tech have led to unforeseen, and radical changes in society that we are in the middle of, and that are on par with the kinds of revolutions we have seen earlier with the printing press with movable type and the steam engine.

17. March 2021. Threats to democracy in the digital era

  • In parallel with technological development, the emergence of “hacking” and “insider threats”. What is hacking and what does it mean? Types of “hacking”. Moonlight Mile and hacking, and the transformation of espionage. Emergence of Logic bombs and Sub-rosa sabotage in cyber war, SCADA attacks, Stuxnet computer worm, and Ransomware.
  • Offensive DDOS attack in Estonia in 2007; The first nation-state attack and “the continuation of policy by other means”. Hybrid digital/kinetic attacks. “Public-Private Partnerships” or State and criminal actor co-operation.

14. April 2021. Changing nature of truth, politics, security and war in the Digital era

  • The rise of fake news, targeted advertising and weaponization of social media for political ends. A brief history of disinformation and its instrumentalization in the Digital era. From Ukraine to UK, the US and French elections: the hybridization of digital methods.
  • On the spread of disinformation and its impact on politics, conspiracy theories and democratic processes. Solomon Asch conformity experiments. Imagined communities, Dunning-Kruger effect and the death of expertise. Multiple truths and the Overton Window.
  • International agreements and norms. National sovereignty vs sovereign corporations. COVID App, blackmailing nations.

12. May 2021. Future developments in politics and governance

  • The changing nature of security as we move from kinetic to digital. “Continuing policy by other means” where mass, distance and time, the classical determinants of force, no longer matter.
  • Diverging paths between Chinese “algorithmic authoritarianism” and the US’ “surveillance capitalism”. Where will privacy-fixated Europe fit?
  • Techno-economic competition and blackmail.