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Regulating Cyber Space: An Examination of U.S.-China Relations


American corporations and governmental agencies have fallen victim to increasingly more frequent and complex cyber-attacks over the past 16 years. Many of these attacks are reported to originate from a specialized unit of the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China. This study examines the structural, institutional, and regulatory factors that may be contributing to this continued victimization. Utilizing a nodal governance framework, the efficacy of individual cyber security actors and their ability to work together as security stakeholders, is assessed. Data are derived from interviews, observations, and published works, including previously-classified “leaks.” Initial findings suggest that a lack of cooperation between nodal clusters is the primary barrier to better security production. While internal issues, such as a lack codified security standards, contribute to reduced online security, this research suggests communication, cooperation, and trust between nodes, in accordance with guidelines from the “responsive regulation” literature, will lead to the greatest reduction in cyber-attacks. Finally, this study calls into question the efficacy of current proposed legislation, which further alienates non-governmental actors and may contribute to further reduced cyber security capacity.

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