Privatizing Political Authority: Cybersecurity, Public-Private Partnerships, and the Reproduction of Liberal Political Order

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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Privatizing Political Authority: Cybersecurity, Public-Private Partnerships, and the Reproduction of Liberal Political Order


  • Daniel R. McCarthy School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia


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Abstract:  Cybersecurity sits at the intersection of public security concerns about critical infrastructure protection and private security concerns around the protection of property rights and civil liberties. Public-private partnerships have been embraced as the best way to meet the challenge of cybersecurity, enabling cooperation between private and public sectors to meet shared challenges. While the cybersecurity literature has focused on the practical dilemmas of providing a public good, it has been less effective in reflecting on the role of cybersecurity in the broader constitution of political order. Unpacking three accepted conceptual divisions between public and private, state and market, and the political and economic, it is possible to locate how this set of theoretical assumptions shortcut reflection on these larger issues. While public-private partnerships overstep boundaries between public authority and private right, in doing so they reconstitute these divisions at another level in the organization of political economy of liberal democratic societies.

Keywords:  capitalism; critical infrastructure protection; critical theory; cybersecurity; public-private partnerships

Published:   11 June 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v6i2.1335


© Daniel R. McCarthy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.