Libmonster ID: BY-2409
Author(s) of the publication: K. A. PANZEREV


Doctor of Political Science

Saint Petersburg State University

Keywords: information society, information technologies, information security, Internet, social networks, North Africa

In the modern world, "the formation of a new social order based on telecommunications is becoming crucial for economic and social life, for the methods of knowledge production, as well as for the nature of human labor activity."1. The essence of this new way of life is that in it the organization, processing and transfer of information and knowledge become the most important processes. This is not so much about the quantitative growth of information, but rather "that it has become the main, strategic role in our activities, starting with recreation, including business activity and government work" 2.

Meanwhile, new information technologies, when used skilfully, are also capable of blowing up the existing order, overthrowing political regimes that seemed unshakable, shaking the foundations of statehood and directing the country's development in a new direction.

Today, the central place in the system of public relations is given to modern information and communication technologies (IT). The social relations formed in this way are called the information society, the formation of which is becoming one of the main strategic policy priorities of both developed and developing countries. Most of their leaders see IT as an effective tool that can ensure sustainable socio-economic development and solve many of the problems facing a particular state.


IT provides "broad opportunities for interaction between individuals, professional groups, unions, associations through the intensification of communication. <...> Thanks to information and communication technologies, various spheres of human activity are being rebuilt: trade, financial activities, education. <...> Information and communication technologies have made a decisive contribution to the formation of a modern global economic system, making it possible to create a new global economy. the division of labor is indeed possible on a planetary scale.<...> In recent years, these technologies have become intensively implemented in the daily life of literally every person. " 3

In this regard, it is clear why the leadership of most African countries has declared IT development one of the highest priorities. A number of countries on the continent have developed relevant concepts, action plans and strategies designed for both the long and medium term.

However, it should be recognized that most African countries do not have the necessary financial, material and technological resources to create a developed information and telecommunications infrastructure on their territory. To catch up with the development of Western countries, they have to resort to the help of all the same Western states. Those who are adept at capitalizing on the financial dependence of their African partners are forcing them to implement reforms that open up the African information market to Western telecommunications companies.

This process, dubbed the "structural adjustment" of African economies, was initially characterized by"controlled liberalization". However, quite quickly it turned into an almost uncontrolled spontaneous process, as a result of which, in some cases,-

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Almost the entire IT industry of the continent is now owned by enterprises with foreign participation.

So, the French telecommunications corporation France Telecom received a controlling stake in the Kenyan Telcom Kenya. And in Senegal, when the question arose about the need for technical modernization of Sonatel's facilities, the controlling stake in its shares was bought out by the French corporation France Cables Radio, a branch of the same France Telecom. In many respects, it is the financial and material and technological dependence on the leading world powers that can explain the fact that the national strategies for the development of information technologies developed by African countries are more or less focused exclusively on creating a favorable climate for private foreign investors.

Such major news agencies as United Press International (USA), Associated Press (USA), Agence France Press (France) and Reuters (Great Britain) mainly reflect events taking place in the countries of Western civilization. At the same time, Africa usually receives information related to natural disasters, epidemics, and armed conflicts occurring on the African continent.

Africa appears in the eyes of the world community as a source of anxiety and instability, where there are always military coups, wars, disasters, droughts, etc. We emphasize that Western journalists ' assessment of events taking place on the continent is often dominated by the official point of view of the foreign policy departments of Western countries - mainly the US State Department.

In Africa, there is a Pan-African News Agency (PANA), established in 1963.However, its activities faced a typical problem for many African countries - lack of funds, as a result of which the agency could not create its own network of correspondent bureaus.

Among news channels, the most popular in Africa are the American CNN and Qatar's Al Jazeera ,which has a pronounced pro-Western character. Thus, it can be concluded that Africans themselves "see the world" exclusively through the eyes of Western media and Western journalists. African countries are beginning to develop their own information capacities, and a media industry is emerging.

With a more detailed study of the information and telecommunications field of developing countries, it becomes obvious that the national IT systems emerging in Africa largely copy the organizational and conceptual models of global media corporations, while they have extremely limited opportunities to disseminate objective and comprehensive information of their own production.

Thus, the national media become mere repeaters of information supplied to them by their Western partners. It is clear that the excessive participation of Western countries in the creation of the IT industry of African states and in the formation of their information field poses a threat to their information security and information sovereignty. African countries may try to establish State control over the Internet, but this is unlikely to lead to positive results.

It can be concluded that the dependence of African countries in this area will inevitably increase, despite the protectionist measures of their governments. Multinational corporations-British Telecom, France Telecom, World Communications, Sprint, Cable and Wireless-continue to be the largest Internet service providers across Africa. As for hosting, a significant part of it (about 70%) continues to be carried out in the United States. This is where the vast majority of African servers are located. Of course, if necessary, information systems formed with the direct participation of Western states can be used to overthrow undesirable regimes and manipulate public opinion. So the countries of Africa should not only pay attention to the development of IT on their territory, but also not forget about the need to ensure their information security, conduct regular monitoring of the current information and communication situation in the world to identify information aggression from other countries.

The statement of the American researcher Alvin Toffler that "the development of technology is not necessarily equivalent to 'progress': if it is not constantly monitored, it can actually destroy the results already achieved "4 does not lose its relevance.

Similar positions were held by the Russian academician N. Moiseev, who in one of his works suggested that in information technology, a person has acquired "a powerful but extremely dangerous weapon, no less powerful and no less terrible in its consequences than the atomic bomb" 5.

Revolutionary upheavals that swept the country-

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From our point of view, we fully confirm the correctness of the statements made by E. Toffler and N. Moiseev, which have spread to the Middle East since January 2011. The series of Arab revolutions known as the" Arab Spring "is sometimes referred to in the media as the" Twitter " revolutions. This indicates the role that information technology has played in organizing mass demonstrations and discrediting the top leadership of North African countries.

In our opinion, the example of Libya is significant. At the end of November 2010, it hosted delegates of the third EU-Africa Summit. And it was hard to imagine that in a matter of months the country would turn into a theater of military operations, and the personality of Gaddafi, who cordially received the heads of the European Union countries, would be discredited largely because of the media war that unfolded against him, and he himself would be destroyed.


From our point of view, the active use of information technologies in organizing protest actions in North African countries is not accidental. The fact is that Africa, despite numerous attempts to close the "digital divide", continues to be a continent with an impressive "digital imbalance": people with access to modern information technologies are concentrated in the north (North African countries) and in the south (South Africa) of the continent.

It is obvious that information technologies for organizing protest movements could only be used in countries that have reached a sufficiently high level of informatization. Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt are just the countries where IT has made a qualitative breakthrough in its development.

Thus, in 2011, Tunisia ranked 84th and Egypt 91st in the ranking that demonstrates the level of development of IT technologies, which is prepared annually by experts of the International Telecommunication Union. For comparison, South Africa was ranked 97th in this ranking, and of the Sub - Saharan African countries, Botswana had the highest score-109th place.6

As for Libya, it did not find a place in the International Telecommunication Union's ranking published in 2011. Most likely, this circumstance can be attributed to the civil war that began in the country: in the 2009 rating, Libya ranked 81st.7 The relatively high level of informatization of North African countries, by African standards, has created favorable conditions for a surge of interest among Africans in Western social networks - Twitter and Facebook. In Egypt, for example, by mid - November 2015, the number of Facebook accounts had grown to 27 million-about 35% of the country's population.8 In Tunisia, the number of accounts reached 5.2 million as of November 15, 2015 - 49% of the country's population9.

The presented statistics show that the most dynamically developing countries in Africa have managed to achieve some success in the field of IT (of course, relative to the absolute "zero" observed in the early 2000s). Such a rapid introduction of information technologies in a number of African countries was also due to the fact that Africa was actively implementing the program Development of the Pan-African Broadband System, approved in 2003, which should cover the entire continent. According to preliminary estimates, about 30 thousand km of fiber-optic lines will have to be built in Africa.10

Currently, most of the necessary backbone fiber-optic lines have been laid. The geography of the African fiber network is impressive. The SAT-3 submarine cable system originates in Portugal and stretches along the entire coast of West Africa to Cape Town. Then the East African cable system starts in Johannesburg, which runs along the coast of East Africa through Mombasa (Kenya) and continues on to the United Arab Emirates 11. As a result, most of the African countries that have access to the sea are connected to the global communication ridge. All this has led to a significant reduction in the cost of Internet connection in these countries.

Thus, the Internet in the most developed African countries is gradually becoming a real means of mass communication. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in social media users in Africa.

Another factor affecting the overall number of people able to use a computer is the relatively high percentage of literate people who are able to master modern information technologies compared to Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in Egypt, according to the 1996 general population census, the number of illiterate people over the age of 10 in rural areas was 49.5%, and in urban areas-only 26.6%. At the same time, in Cairo and Alexandria, by 2000, about 80% of the population was literate12. In Egypt, there is also a fairly large proportion of young people

page 16

people who have a higher education but are unemployed. It was they, as you know, who formed the first wave of demonstrators demanding changes in the socio-economic sphere from the Egyptian leadership.

Separately, we should mention the rapid development of mobile communications in Africa, to which African states largely owe their rating success. It is Africa that is experiencing the highest growth in the number of mobile subscribers among developing countries. As early as 2006-2007, approximately a quarter of the continent's population owned at least one mobile phone.13 In Africa, where fixed-line telephone services are developing at an extremely slow pace, mobile telephony and mobile Internet are the only acceptable technical solutions that can provide communication to the population. In Tunisia, for example, according to statistics published in a report by the International Telecommunication Union back in 2009, 76% of the country's population used mobile communication services (compared to only 6% in 2002) .14 The situation is similar in Morocco, where the number of Internet users by 2011 was very low. It accounted for approximately 50% of the population, mainly due to the widespread use of mobile Internet 15.

A similar trend is observed in a number of other African countries, such as Kenya and Nigeria, where mobile telecommunications systems are developing more rapidly than fixed lines.

At the same time, mobile communication, along with its obvious advantages, also poses a certain threat to the information security of the state, since with the help of CMC mailing, you can quickly gather a large number of people for anti-government rallies and demonstrations.

Thus, the countries of North Africa have developed, by African standards, information and communication infrastructure. The population actively uses social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, which, as you know, posted calls for organizing certain protest actions.

It should be recalled that North African countries do not have their own social networks. Both Twitter and Facebook are American resources that practically do not filter the content that comes to them, hiding behind a broad interpretation of the principle of freedom of speech, and do not comply with the laws of the countries in which they operate.

Here is an example of how IT technologies were applied in Egypt in January-May 2011. With the help of social networks and SMS messages, groups of activists agreed on the time and place of protest actions. The Egyptian authorities realized the danger posed by the global Internet, and for several days blocked access to it throughout the country. But these drastic measures were no longer able to change the course of events.

The information campaign in the world's global media and Internet content, aimed at discrediting the current government, together with calls in social networks for disobedience, had a decisive impact on undermining the authority of the seemingly unshakable regime. It contributed to revolutionary upheavals that led not only to a significant shift in the centers of power in the Middle East, but also to fundamental changes in the architecture of the global world order.

Thus, we can distinguish two main classes of sources of threat to the information security of the state, which the leadership of the North African countries was not ready to actively counteract: the Internet (primarily, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook) and mobile communications.

This circumstance is pointed out by many researchers. We had the opportunity to participate in the Midwest Political Science Association's annual membership meeting, which was held in Chicago in early April 2013. At this conference, about 10 sections were devoted to discussing the impact of information technologies on the political process. They also discussed the events of the "Arab Spring", as well as the role that social networks play in shaping public opinion, including in the United States.

Especially noteworthy is the report on the role of social networks in shaping public opinion during the US presidential campaigns. In particular, it was noted that social networks have a secondary function of simply informing the population (this is the prerogative of online publications). And such functions as engagement, communication and mobilization come to the fore.

The example of North African countries shows how social networks can quickly mobilize large masses of people and bring them to the streets, especially in countries where there are socio-economic prerequisites for protest actions.

Thus, it can be concluded that social networks, under certain circumstances, can become a serious threat to the national security of the state.-

page 17

because it is almost impossible to control them.

Experts in the field of telecommunications agree that only a network that has no more than 10 thousand subscribers can be effectively monitored. In addition, only social networks located in national jurisdiction can be subject to local legislation. There are practically no real levers of pressure on the world-famous American social networks that are widely popular, including in Russia, unless access to these resources is completely banned. As an example, let's cite the film "Innocence of Muslims", which was timed to coincide with the next anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and was posted in 2012 on the video hosting site YouTube. The appearance of this film on the Internet led to a sharp surge in new protests in the Arab world, which this time acquired an anti-American character, which swept through Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. As a result, the American ambassador to Libya and several other embassy employees were killed in Benghazi.

However, the American corporation Google, which owns the YouTube resource, refused to remove the scandalous film, explaining its decision by saying that it is necessary to be guided by the principle of" freedom of speech", but for some reason forgetting about another, no less significant principle-respect for cultures and religions.

Another important aspect of the problem is that the foreign media has launched an active campaign against the leaders of North African states, aimed at discrediting them. The most striking example of information and psychological operations is the unfolding information war against Libya. The main task that the Western countries set for themselves was to get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on Libya that would suit them, which would give them the opportunity to provide real assistance to the Libyan opposition, including by military means. To do this, it was necessary to organize a powerful information campaign aimed at discrediting Gaddafi, so that he would not have any allies left either in Africa or abroad.

The main hopes were pinned on the global media systems, which were supposed to create in the eyes of the general public a sharply negative image of Gaddafi, who "brutally cracked down" on "peaceful" demonstrators. The Libyan opposition, on the other hand, was supposed to appear as the only alternative to the current government, with which it is possible and necessary to negotiate a political settlement of the conflict. At the same time, the idea of negotiating with the Gaddafi regime was not even discussed. Special emphasis was placed on the need to fight Gaddafi exclusively by military means. Finally, the subsequent bombing of Libyan territory by NATO aircraft after the adoption of the resolution was supposed to be the only sure way to quickly resolve the conflict and end the civil war. The death of civilians as a result of NATO air raids was either silenced or blamed on government forces. Publications in the world media should have had a certain impact on those Libyan soldiers who remained loyal to the Gaddafi regime. They should have been misled about the real potential of the opposition forces in order to sow panic.

Thanks to the information war that unfolded against Libya, the resolution on Libya was adopted in the form that suited the Western countries. This decision opened up an opportunity for NATO forces to launch an armed operation, while Gaddafi did not have a single ally left, including in Africa, capable of providing him with real help and support. A fatal role here was played, first of all, by the compliance of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China.

By and large, this result was predictable in the current conditions. The world's largest media outlets, primarily the media empire of Rupert Murdoch and some other key players in the global media market, are headquartered in the United States, Canada, and a number of European countries (Great Britain, France, and Germany). However, for the above reasons, Africa does not have its own influential mass media.

It is important to note that with all the pluralism of opinions that exists in the West, Western media try to follow in line with the state information policy, adhering to the main vector of foreign policy attitudes of their ruling circles. We have to admit that the information war was completely lost by the authorities of Libya and Egypt. In our opinion, the political leaders of the North African countries could have put up a decent resistance in the war that unfolded against them if they had ensured the support of the population, using the same mass media to the full. Unfortunately, North African leaders have underestimated the power and importance of mass media, especially the Internet.

Despite being quite high, by African standards-

page 18

the level of socio-economic development in these countries, discontent with the ruling regimes grew, fueled by the "independent" Internet and media. From our point of view, this is one of the main challenges to information security for any state.


The Internet and global media systems leave the territory of national borders and are not accountable to the countries where they operate. It must be recognized that their uncontrolled activities may pose a threat to the national security of these countries and, therefore, must comply with certain rules.

As you know, the most stringent policy in the field of state regulation of the IT industry is carried out by China, which manages to very successfully control the content distributed through the global Internet network.

The category of "undesirable" in China includes any information that "contains criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, touches on "sensitive" political topics related to the coverage of industrial disasters, natural disasters and epidemics. News resources and online coverage of political events are under strict control 16. Access to sites where prohibited information is published is blocked for several minutes.

The fact is that in China, state control over Internet service providers operating in the country is legally fixed. Without fail, they must equip their servers with a special automatic system aimed at filtering and blocking unwanted information. For this reason, access to such popular Internet resources as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is prohibited in China.

The question of the validity of such a strict state policy in the field of Internet regulation is debatable. However, in the case of China, it is impossible not to recognize such a policy as successful.

The situation is different in North Africa. Left "alone" with foreign media and Internet resources, people gradually became convinced of the" justice "and" rightness "of the broadcast "truths" about the "venality" of their leaders, their worthlessness, and succumbed to the calls spread on social networks to go out and demand a change of the ruling regime.

Based on the above, it can be concluded that information networks, in general, and social media operating on their platform, together with global media systems, can pose a real threat to the national security of the state in the era of information globalization.

The effectiveness of countering these challenges and threats directly depends on the availability of a well-thought-out and balanced state information policy in the country and the level of information culture of the society itself. It continues to be quite low. This means that in the future, the states of the North African region, most likely, may become objects of information expansion and information aggression on the part of the world's leading information powers, since they are not able to adequately resist them.

Bell D. 1 Sotsial'nye ramki informatsionnogo obshchestva [Social framework of the Information society]. Novaya tekhnokraticheskaya volna na Zapade [New Technocratic Wave in the West], Moscow, Progress Publ., 1986, p. 330.

Webster F. 2 Teorii informatsionnogo obshchestva [2 Theories of Information Society], translated from English by M. V. Arapova and N. V. Malykhina, Aspect Press, 2004, p. 360.

Lebedeva M. M.. 3 Mirovaya politika, Moscow, Aspect Press, 2006, p. 153. (Lebedeva M. M. 2006. Mirovaya politika ... Moscow) (in Russian)

Toffler E. 4 Adaptive corporation / / New post-industrial wave in the West. Moscow, Academia. 1999. p. 251.

Moiseev N. N. 5 The fate of civilization. The Path of Reason, Moscow, MNEPU Publishing House, 1998, p. 83. (Moiseev N. N. 1998. Sudba tsivilizatsii. Put razuma. M.) (in Russian)

6 Measuring the Information Society. Geneva, 2011. P. 13 -

7 Measuring the Information Society. The ICT

Development Index. Geneva, 2009. P. 22 -

8 Internet World Stats. 2015. Internet users in Africa -

9 Ibidem.

10 NEPAD E-Africa Commission -

11 Ibidem.

Abramova I. O., Polikanov D. V. 12 Internet and Africa: Parallel Realities, Moscow, Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2001, p. 80. (Abramova I. O., Polikanov D. V. 2001. Internet i Africa: parallelnye realnosti. M.) (in Russian)

13 Measuring the Information Society... 2009. P. 3.

14 Ibid. P. 33.

15 Measuring the Information Society... 2011. P. 18.

Leksyutpina Ya. V. 16 Amerikano-kitayskie otnosheniya v usloviyakh transformiruyushchey mezhdunarodnoi sistemy v nachale XXI V. [American-Chinese relations in the conditions of the Transforming International System at the beginning of the XXI century].


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