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2014/1 (No 152-153)

  • Pages : 320
  • ISBN : 9782707178985
  • DOI : 10.3917/her.152.0067
  • Publisher : La Découverte

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Despite its increasing popularity, cyberspace remains an ambiguous topic. No single definition of the term exists, but rather multiple ones, and these vary considerably, even in academic and military circles (Betz and Stevens, 2011). The public generally views cyberspace as being synonymous with the Internet. However, academic and military circles tend to view it in more operational terms, even though these terms too are highly variable. Cyberspace has been defined as an environment (Harknett et al., 2010), a domain (Carr, 2009), a theater of operations (Kempf, 2012), a substrate (Demchak, 2012), and a milieu, means, or medium (Libicki, 2012). Although different agencies within a single state sometimes define it differently, cyberspace is now a strategic concept used at the highest levels of government, in military doctrines, and in international negotiations.


While the Internet is easy to define and identify, cyberspace is broader and more virtual. [2]  See glossary at the beginning of this issue.[2] To some, cyberspace represents a dematerialized, borderless, and anonymous virtual “world” of freedom, exchange, and communication. To others, it represents a dangerous and nebulous “space” where behaviors repressed in society are unleashed. Some view it as a vector of democracy, economic progress, and peace while others see it as a means of mass surveillance, the ultimate Big Brother, and a tool for controlling and manipulating the masses. That representation was bolstered by the publication of the Edward Snowden documents about the information-gathering practices of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). Numerous representations of cyberspace thus exist and are sometimes at odds with each other.


This multiplicity of definitions notwithstanding, a number of common elements can be identified. The first is the Internet because it generates the worldwide interconnectivity of networks on which cyberspace depends and without which it could not exist. Second, most definitions include spatial references such as “space,” “world”, “milieu,” or “environment.” The term cyberspace thus seems to have a geographical dimension. [3]  This geographical dimension is often part of the semantic...[3] In spite of this geographical vocabulary, cyberspace is neither a geographical space nor a place, a milieu, a world, or even a territory. All the same, the representation of cyberspace as a spatial entity is particularly prevalent in research on conflicts over control, mastery, or protection of it. Many researchers view cyberspace as a separate entity, often described as “virtual,” that can be linked to the “real” in order to analyze the conflicts stemming from it. [4]  See Joseph Nye’s work on the subject of cyber-power...[4] With the prefix “cyber-” now spreading throughout the strategic literature, it is increasingly important to reexamine “the more or less rational and coherent set of ideas” associated with cyberspace that describe and express a portion of reality in terms that can be vague or precise and invalid or correct as representations (Lacoste, 1995). In fact, representations underpin discourses, justify actions, and either bring together or divide actors involved in conflicts pertaining to cyberspace.


This paper does not aim to define cyberspace. First, it provides an overview of the main representations of cyberspace, which overlap, merge, and conflict with one another, thus forming a complex system. Second, this paper examines how these representations are expressed in political conflicts involving cyberspace. Examples are provided in order to illustrate how certain representations are (or are not) used in specific political, economic, or military strategies.

Cyberspace: A Free World?


In his 1984 novel Neuromancer, William Gibson describes cyberspace in the following terms:


A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…


This science fiction piece belongs to a literary genre known as “cyberpunk,” which Gibson founded. Works in this genre tend to be set in violent, dark, and apocalyptical worlds in which computer technology and artificial intelligence play pivotal roles in the functioning of society. In the 1970s and 1980s, the rise of computer use kindled fears about pervasive surveillance, Big Brother, and the threat of machines overtaking humankind. The cyberpunk movement expresses these fears. Although marginal in the world of literature, this genre has influenced many areas, including video-games, comic strips, even film. For instance, the symbol of today’s Anonymous movement is the mask worn by Guy Fawkes, the main character in the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. [5]  A highly heterogeneous movement born on the Internet,...[5] This genre also influenced a number of box office hits, including Matrix, Tron, Terminator, and others. How did cyberspace, which emerged from a marginal literary community, enter everyday language and became a strategic concept in the space of only a few years?


In 1948, mathematician Norbert Wiener founded cybernetics (on which William Gibson’s term “cyberspace” was based). In naming his new science, Wiener used the Greek word kubernetes, which means “pilot” or “helmsman.” [6]  Cybernetics is the scientific study of how living things,...[6] Interestingly, this same Greek term is the root for words such as “government and “gubernatorial,” a fact not devoid of political significance. Furthermore, the concept of “cybernetics” gave birth to a highly political idea. Immediately after World War II, Wiener suggested that information and communication would become critical to the functioning of society. He argued that communication is the foundation of society and that the survival (or fall) of civilization depends on those who work to keep the channels of communication open (Wiener, 1948).


During the early years of the Cold War, Wiener’s position served to legitimate the idea that democracy is the best form of social organization. The notion of communication being a liberating factor synonymous with freedom emerged long before the advent of the Internet. In fact, Dominique Wolton (1999) points out that the association between communication and freedom emerged early in the Renaissance. Thus the dramatic increase in communication networks after the birth of the Internet in the 1990s simply bolstered a preexisting idea.


Negroponte’s Being Digital (1995) and Castells’ The Internet Galaxy (2003 both explain how communication networks spurred the rise of the information society. The earliest research on the shift from a society dominated by the exploitation of raw materials (the industrial era) to one dominated by information and communication technologies dates to the 1970s. [7]  The Information Society Journal (founded in 1981) is...[7] The earliest political reports (in France and elsewhere) about the impact of networks on daily life were written in the 1990s. At that time, many believed that the development of communication technologies would foster more direct and therefore more equalitarian and peaceful social relations and benefit and enrich democracy. As early as 1968, Joseph Licklider and Robert Taylor, both leading figures of the ARPANET project (the precursor to the Internet), argued that people would communicate more efficiently through machines than in person. [8]  It is untrue that the basis for the creation of the...[8] They believed that people would be happier online because they would only interact with those whom they had chosen and that communication would be more effective and productive and thus more enjoyable (Flichy, 2001). For example, this outlook is illustrated by the vast number of media publications emphasizing the pivotal role social networks played in the Arab revolutions, even though a few voices did come forward to challenge this representation.


Ensuring the free circulation of information – and thus the principle of transparency – was the goal of the Internet’s creators, who were heavily influenced by the anti-establishment atmosphere of Californian universities and the New Age movement in the 1960s and 1970s. According to Internet’s creators, “a good system must be open and therefore transparent” (Breton, 2000). Any attempts at concealing information or to close off systems are therefore perceived as threats to the functioning of the network and of society itself since they undermine the principle of the free circulation of information.


Numerous aspects of American counter-culture are expressed within this utopian vision of cyberspace, including sharing, free services, rejection of authority, and so on. However, the impact of American history on this utopia goes even deeper. Often considered as important as civil liberties, the freedom of speech so extolled in cyberspace – and an essential characteristic of its utopia – is enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Both the historical context (the political construction of the United States) and the geographical (California in the 1960s) context have influenced the very structure of the Internet and its mode of functioning as a decentralized architecture free of regulatory oversight.


As a result of promoting an idealized vision of cyberspace, the information society has become a veritable political agenda. In his speech to the International Telecommunication Union in 1994, Al Gore, a major backer of information highways and global information infrastructure in the United States, declared:


The GII [Global Information Infrastructure] will not only be a metaphor for a functioning democracy, it will in fact promote the functioning of democracy by greatly enhancing the participation of citizens in decision-making. And it will greatly promote the ability of nations to cooperate with each other. I see a new Athenian Age of democracy forged in the fora the GII will create.


In France also, political leaders have used optimistic and vigorous discourse in favor of the information society. Several reports on the information society were submitted to government officials between 1994 and 1997, which attests to politicians’ growing interest in the topic. [9]  Examples from France include: the Théry Report on information...[9] In a speech in August 1997, then Prime Minister Lionel Jospin stated:


The rise of new information and communication networks brings social, cultural, and ultimately political benefits. The transformation of the relationship with space and time brought about by information networks can benefit democracy at multiple levels: access to knowledge and culture, development, and citizen participation in local life. [10]  Speech by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin about France’s...[10]


While political speeches tend to underscore opportunities for economic development (a major concern in times of economic crisis), more recently, the spread of networks has generally been viewed as a “factor in equality” and “critical to democracy,” to use the terms used by [President] François Hollande in his February 2013 speech about France’s digital ambitions.


However, a much more pessimistic view of the virtual world exists in contrast to this idealistic discourse with prophetic undertones. Alongside the fantasy of the Internet fostering harmonious social relations exists a fear that technology will surpass humanity and lead to the advent of an ultimate Big Brother. Of course, Edward Snowden’s revelations in the summer of 2013 did little to allay this fear. The pessimists argue that, far from being egalitarian, the Internet will deepen existing social inequalities by allowing elites to strengthen their dominance. In other words, a “digital divide” will endure, be it territorial, social, or generational (Desforges, 2012).


Stimulated by communication infrastructures, the representation of cyberspace as a space of freedom, a factor in economic and social progress, and a symbol of democracy has been widely used in American discourse about Internet governance. Internet governance is provided by various actors, including governments, but also by civil society and the private sector. Some countries such as China and Russia want national governments to play a greater role in Internet governance by, for instance, handing over the reins of the Internet to the United Nations (where only states are represented). Two opposing representations seem to dominate debates about Internet governance. On the one hand, there is the representation of a free cyberspace as it is presented by the United States. On the other, there is the representation of a cyberspace subject to information control measures as it exists in Russia and China. These diverging representations clashed at the World Conference on International Telecommunications organized by the International Telecommunication Union in Dubai in December 2012. In countering the Russian argument in favor of United Nations oversight of the Internet, the United States appealed to the libertarian view of cyberspace in an attempt to maintain the status quo despite its own dominant role in Internet governance being the target of increasing criticism from other countries, including those in the European Union. [11]  Consider the reactions when Megaupload was shut down...[11] However, according to Bertrand de La Chapelle, a former board member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates addressing and naming on the Internet, this view is incorrect and simplistic. As de La Chapelle (2012) sees it, the view can be a potentially dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy. According to him, the tension between these two views could spark a new geopolitical conflict unless the exaggerated discourses are toned down and the focus is placed on the common objectives of widening access, protecting global interoperability, and maintaining a balance between access to information, privacy, and security.


As a result of this simplification of the discourse on the representation of a free cyberspace, 54 countries (including the United States and the United Kingdom) refused to sign the amended version of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). For instance, French Minister of the Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin argued that the Internet is a shared asset and must remain free and open. In her view, France could not approve revisions that raised such deep concerns among non-governmental organizations and Internet stakeholders. [12]  Frédéric Bergé. “Le sommet de Dubaï entérine la fragmentation...[12]


The representation of cyberspace as a space of freedom is a powerful tool of American strategy. It is used to block Russian and Chinese calls for network controls but also to protect its own dominant position in Internet governance despite this position being increasingly criticized. However, the publication in the summer of 2013 of the Edward Snowden documents about US surveillance practices strongly mitigated the impact of this discourse. Today, new actors, with Brazil at the helm, have resolved to fight the United States’ position.

A Space beyond the Real?


The libertarian and utopian representation depicts cyberspace as a separate entity, often referred to as “virtual.” According to Musso (2003), cyberspace, which is devoid of physical distance and borders, aims to “dissolve anything that gets in its way (territory, institutions, including states, and the physical body)” and to bring about an entity that exists outside the physical world. Despite a discourse that in principle rejects all geographical notions (such as borders and distance), a spatial and even territorial representation of cyberspace is emerging (Flichy, 2001).


For Yves Lacoste, territory refers to the area in which a human group lives and which it views as its collective property. From the perspective of the state, territory refers to the portion of terrestrial space that falls within its borders and over which it exerts authority and jurisdiction (Lacoste, 2003). Although it is commonly accepted that cyberspace does not cover any portion of terrestrial space, it no less presents certain characteristics of a territory. According to some stakeholders, it has a population (Internet users) as well as its own mode of governance (self-regulation). In fact, this representation of cyberspace as a territory was first endorsed in the early 1990s by the pioneers of the Internet, who viewed it as an independent space untouched by the laws of the physical world (Desforges, 2013).


The document entitled “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” [13]  Website accessed on May 27, 2012: https://projects...[13] written in 1996 by John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, [14]  EFF was founded in 1990. It is a non-profit organization...[14] bolstered this representation. This text declared freedom of speech to be a founding principle of cyberspace and beseeched industrialized countries to not interfere with it. This representation depicts cyberspace as a separate territory. Although its author has since reconsidered his position, the text remains a key factor in the “territorialization” of cyberspace and a reference document for some stakeholders. In 2012, for example, the Anonymous movement used a modified version of the text when it opposed the US bills SOPA [15]  Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill...[15] and ACTA [16]  The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) aims...[16] which dealt with online copyright regulation, with Anonymous arguing that these bills violated the principle of free speech. The subject of freedom of expression in cyberspace continues to be intensely debated in democratic countries (particularly in the United States but elsewhere also). Much as in the US Constitution, this freedom is often viewed as having a sacred value. This same phenomenon surfaced in France in late 2012 during the controversy over the homophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist comments on Twitter that used the hashtags [17]  A meaningful series of words without spaces that starts...[17] #simonfilsétaitgay (“if my son were gay”), #unbonjuif (“a good Jew”), and #simafillerameneunnoir (“if my daughter dated a black man”).


The representation of cyberspace as a spatial entity reemerged in the discourse of nation-states in the early 2000s. In response to the growing number of uses of the Internet and the rise in cybercrime and cyber-threats, governments sought ways to protect their borders and their sovereignty inside the virtual “space.” [18]  According to the French Ministry of the Interior, cybercrime...[18] While most governments sought to protect their citizens and interests and to secure their territory, some sought to protect their political regimes through control and surveillance. Cyberspace presents a unique challenge to world leaders in that it calls into question the scope of their power and authority. More recently and outside the civilian world, cyberspace has undergone a form of “spatialization” in military circles, with several armies now viewing it as a fifth dimension of operations in addition to land, sea, air, and space itself. Despite cyberspace being added to the traditional areas of military operation, it must be pointed out that unlike traditional ones, cyberspace does not exist outside the scope of human action. In fact, nation-states appeal to this spatialized representation of cyberspace in order to justify amplifying their means of action in a space that eludes their laws and their sovereignty.


Governments view the telecommunications sector as being vital to the protection of national security and public order, their independence, even cultural identity. In addition, governments played a leading role in the development of telecommunication networks. In fact, in most cases, nation-states were the first to develop such networks.


Two spatialized representations of cyberspace are emerging and are used for opposing aims. They challenge and conflict with one another with varying degrees of intensity. Both serve to legitimate computer attacks (in the case of Anonymous), justify the growth of financial, human, and technical capabilities within governments (which some denounce as a militarization of cyberspace), and in some cases, unite stakeholders behind a common project (such as Internet governance). Yet the spatial representation of cyberspace is not new. According to some sociologists, this spatial representation emerged in tandem with the concept of networks (Flichy, 2001; Musso, 2003). When this concept arose in the 19th century and became a new paradigm, technical networks were viewed as new layers that would be overlaid onto the territories where they were installed and would alter the relationship between space and time.


Cyberspace is viewed as a potential source of risks and threats, which explains governments’ growing interest in this topic. From the late 1990s and especially from the mid-2000s, when cyberattacks attacks against countries increased, governments began viewing cyber-threats as a national security issue.

Constructing Cyber-Threats


In 1993, John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt prophesized the coming of cyberwar (1993). However, their early warning did not begin to materialize until the mid-2000s, when government discourse about threats from cyberspace intensified. Viewed as a “battlefield” by some countries (French White Paper on Defense and National Security, 2013), cyberspace has become a vector for new threats known as “cyber-threats.” However, like the term “cyberspace,” the term “cyber-threat” is quite vague. As Dunn Davelty (2008) points out, the prefix “cyber-” (which in some cases functions simply as an adjective) is primarily used to denote any action carried out with the help of computers.


The 2013 French White Paper identified three types of cyber-threats: cybercrime not specifically related to national security; attempts to breach digital networks for purposes of espionage; and attacks against systems of vital importance.


Patrick Pailloux, director of the French National Information Security Agency, identified a fourth category of threats: destabilization caused by defacement attacks, [19]  Website defacement is an attack on a website that modifies...[19] denials of serviceno, [20]  Denial of service attacks make a website unavailable...[20] or the publication of sensitive information. According to him, computer attacks have joined street protests as a means of expressing discontent. [21]  Speech by Patrick Pailloux, director of France’s National...[21]


However, this typology is not as simple as it appears because the threat is so multifaceted. In fact, the same attack techniques can be used for purposes of cybercrime or spying. The multifaceted nature of the threat renders it complicated and unclear, which increases the likelihood of alarmist discourses about it. However, despite the growing number of computer attacks, very few have had meaningful impacts from a national security standpoint, at least among those that became known to the public.


The most developed countries are the most vulnerable due to the high degree of interconnectivity between the computer networks vital to their survival. Viewed as the “nervous system” of nations, networks have become a vital stake for governments. Comparing networks to living entities is nothing new. In fact, this comparison dates back to the emergence of the concept of networks itself. Musso (20013) points out that since networks symbolize circulation and continuity, they must also symbolize the other side of the coin: breakdowns, interruptions, crises, overloads, jams, short-circuits, and ultimately death. In fact, the vocabulary in use in this context supports this view, including “virus,” “anti-virus,” “worm,” and so on. The fact that networks are viewed as vital reinforces the feeling of insecurity and legitimates government policies designed to protect them.


Numerous national governments have placed cybersecurity and cyber defense at the forefront of their political agendas by linking them to issues of national security (Dunn Cavelty, 2008). In France, the fact that the 2008 White Paper on Defense and National Security placed information systems security on the same level as nuclear deterrence illustrates the importance of these issues in the eyes of political and strategic leaders. In the United States, some even claim that the threat of cyberattacks exceeds that of terrorism.

A Sense of Global Insecurity


The global and pervasive nature of the threat deepens a feeling of insecurity among stakeholders. The idea that threats can come from anywhere, arise at any moment, and exist even if we do not know about them has produced a profound feeling of sustained insecurity. This feeling is aggravated by the fact that it is difficult to identify a clear enemy (cybercriminals, groups of hackers devoted to a political cause, corporations, governments, etc.).


The asymmetry of the threat portrayed in the media about this topic also contributes to this sense of global insecurity. The idea that a teenager in a garage can undermine the systems of a country or a large corporation is still widespread among the general public. As Olivier Kempf rightly points out, “this perception is reinforced by all the novels and films that evoke such possibilities” (2002: 138). While not impossible, this appears highly unlikely. Carrying out an attack capable of bringing an entire country to its knees would require substantial knowledge (planning, attack techniques, and fieldwork) and resources (human, financial, and technical). Whereas some weaknesses are relatively easy to exploit, the interconnectivity of increasingly complex and protected systems makes it difficult to carry out a large-scale attack. Therefore, the amount of knowledge, organization, tools, and resources needed for such an attack is not available to just anyone. This is why Kempf refers to the “resymmetrization of cyberspace.” Nonetheless, while investments by actors such as governments and corporations do help limit both the number and the scope of successful computer attacks, their means of defense are less effective in dealing with targeted attacks known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). Using simple techniques such as phishing [22]  Phishing is a technique used for acquiring sensitive...[22] or malicious e-mail attachments, attackers not only penetrate the systems of governments and corporations but often manage to go undetected for days or even months. Therefore, the resymmetrization brought about by progress in the area of cybersecurity is limited by the degree of user awareness and current computer and Internet users’ practices.

The Spread of an Anxiogenic Semantic Field


The spread of a particular terminology can also explain why the threat is difficult to pin down. It seems as though the prefix “cyber-” can be added to anything. Due to the number of divergent definitions, defining the threat in clear terms is difficult, and this holds true for specialists as well. This is one reason why debates over the term “cyberwar” are so intense. According to Boyer (2012), alarmist publications sustain the fear of new technologies, exploiting confusion between war (between states), crime (organized or not), and economic competition, thereby strengthening the belief in an ultimate weapon suitable for use in any type of attack.


Moreover, politicians and some experts frequently make reference to anxiogenic historical events when describing these threats. Expressions such as “Cyber Pearl Harbor” or “a digital 9/11” deepen the feeling of global insecurity. While such expressions raise public awareness of the stakes involved in cybersecurity and cyber defense, they may also lead citizens to expect a strong response in the event of an attack, which could escalate tensions. In fact, the nervousness inherent in this representation can bolster political arguments in favor of increasing the human and financial resources devoted to cyber-threats in a context of budget cuts. At the International Cybersecurity Forum in January 2014, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defense, announced the setting up of a “Cyber Defence Pact” with a budget of €1 billion. According to Le Drian, cybersecurity is of vital importance to France’s defense, sovereignty, and security given the major threats that exist, including the possibility of war with direct or indirect involvement by the military (Meddah, 2014). [23]  H. Meddah, “Au FIC, Le Drian soigne sa cyberdéfense,”...[23] This trend toward more dramatic and alarmist discourse serves the business interests of companies (large and small) vying for market share in a flourishing industry. Guy Anderson, an analyst at at HIS Jane’s Aerospace, Defence & Security, points out that cybersecurity is a lifesaver for companies at a time when Western countries have drastically reduced defense spending. [24]  “La cybersécurité devient un secteur stratégique pour...[24] Not surprisingly, the largest corporate players in the defense industry are now focusing on developing cybersecurity solutions, often by buying out specialized companies.



Cyberspace is not a neutral term. Multiple representations of it exist, some of which are contradictory and have shaped government strategies about cyberspace. In such instances, these representations become geopolitical tools. Some countries, such as Russia, have omitted the term “cyberspace” from their strategy, opting instead for the concept of “information space.” By using this broader concept, Russia does not confine itself to cyberspace, thereby giving itself more generalized control over information regardless of its distribution channel. While not a separate territory, cyberspace is viewed by actors in conflicts as a virtual world (in opposition to the “real” one) generated by network interconnectivity. However, the geopolitical conflicts of which cyberspace is both the object and the vector are real. They also reflect the rivalries between countries that exist outside the virtual world. In sum, cyberspace is a new medium for the expression of conflict.


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[1] Researcher for the Castex Chair of Cyber Strategy (Circle of IHEDN Partners/Airbus Group Foundation), PhD student at the French Institute of Geopolitics, Université Paris-VIII.

[2] See glossary at the beginning of this issue.

[3] This geographical dimension is often part of the semantic field used for describing cyberspace and derives essentially from nautical language.

[4] See Joseph Nye’s work on the subject of cyber-power in international relations.

[5] A highly heterogeneous movement born on the Internet, Anonymous is an example of “hacktivism,” whose members have carried out several cyberattacks, which are their particular form of political, economic, and social activism. Members tend to take a libertarian view of cyberspace.

[6] Cybernetics is the scientific study of how living things, machines, and sociological and economic systems control and communicate information.

[7] The Information Society Journal (founded in 1981) is devoted to this topic.

[8] It is untrue that the basis for the creation of the ARPANet was a requirement for networks to have a “central command” in the event of a nuclear attack on American soil. While the ARPANet was encouraged to find ways to ensure the operational capacity of a network if part of it was damaged, the idea of the Internet emerged thanks to frustrated computer scientists who wanted access to greater computing capacities. Of course, some military figures may have viewed the ARPANet as a redundant mid-level command center. In addition, this rumor started when the Rand Corporation published a study on ways to secure exchanges in the event of a nuclear attack on American soil, a study that implicated the ARPANet.

[9] Examples from France include: the Théry Report on information highways in 1994; the Breton Report on tele-services in France in 1994; the Miléo Report on networks and the information society in 1996; and the Martin-Lalande Report on the Internet in 1997.

[10] Speech by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin about France’s entry into the information society. College-level communications summer workshop held in Hourtin, August 25-29, 1997.

[11] Consider the reactions when Megaupload was shut down in January 2012 by order of a United States federal court.

[12] Frédéric Bergé. “Le sommet de Dubaï entérine la fragmentation de l’Internet mondial.” Accessed December 17, 2012 from: http://www.01net.com/actualites/le-sommet-de-dubai-enterine-la-fragmentation-de-linternet-mondial-582663.html

[13] Website accessed on May 27, 2012: https://projects.eff.org

[14] EFF was founded in 1990. It is a non-profit organization devoted to protecting civil liberties in the digital world.

[15] Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill intended to combat online copyright infringement. The bill was tabled after intense debate and the involvement of a lobby representing the largest providers of American content.

[16] The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) aims to protect intellectual property rights and copyrights on the Internet.

[17] A meaningful series of words without spaces that starts with the # sign. The sign indicates the presence of a topic. The author inserts it so it can be found by others. Its use is widespread on social networks that operate using short messages.

[18] According to the French Ministry of the Interior, cybercrime refers to all criminal acts committed via computer networks.

[19] Website defacement is an attack on a website that modifies the site or a webpage, usually to express a statement or a demand.

[20] Denial of service attacks make a website unavailable by overloading it with hits.

[21] Speech by Patrick Pailloux, director of France’s National Agency for Computer Security (ANSSI), to the National Defense and Armed Forces Commission of the French National Assembly. July 16, 2013.

[22] Phishing is a technique used for acquiring sensitive information such as usernames or passwords.

[23] H. Meddah, “Au FIC, Le Drian soigne sa cyberdéfense,” L’Usine digitale, January 22, 2014.

[24] “La cybersécurité devient un secteur stratégique pour l’industrie de la défense.” Accessed on March 8, 2012 from: www.LaTribune.fr.


  1. Cyberspace: A Free World?
  2. A Space beyond the Real?
  3. Constructing Cyber-Threats
    1. A Sense of Global Insecurity
    2. The Spread of an Anxiogenic Semantic Field
  4. Conclusion

Translated from the French by JPD Systems

To cite this article

Alix Desforges, “ Les représentations du cyberespace : un outil géopolitique ”, Hérodote 1/2014 (n° 152-153) , p. 67-81
URL : www.cairn.info/revue-herodote-2014-1-page-67.htm.
DOI : 10.3917/her.152.0067.

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