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Postdigital war beneath the sea? The Stack’s underwater cable insecurity

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This article addresses the problem of undersea cable security, arguing that for almost a century undersea cables have been the playground of major states that have enjoyed the practice of cable interference as part of international conflict. Over the last two decades, it has been a major source of intelligence for organisations like NSA and GCHQ, and so there has been a reluctance to advance international legalisation in this area. Nonetheless, the effect of this has been a failure to protect the digital global commons, and as a consequence, the level of risk to critical infrastructure is growing. The use of cables for intelligence gathering has resulted in a legal regime that is patchy and piecemeal, reflecting a general conspiracy of silence amongst major states about intelligence and its interplay with international law, very much raising questions about the interplay of hardware and software sovereignty with the declining sovereignty of states in modern geopolitics defined by the additional problem of the emergency of the looming ecological disaster. Ultimately, we argue that the end of the digital, through its dependency and risk to the Earth layer, poses critical questions regarding emergent postdigital battlefields, right at the heart of the deep materiality of computation.

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Correspondence to Athina Karatzogianni.

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Aldrich, R.J., Karatzogianni, A. Postdigital war beneath the sea? The Stack’s underwater cable insecurity. Digi War 1, 29–35 (2020).

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