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Roger Clarke's 'The Contested Semantics of Security'

The Contested Semantics of 'Security'
and the Current Challenges of Big Data and IoT

Abstract of 17 October 2016

For presentation to the CyberCake group in Brno on 24 November 2016,
by arrangement with the Institute of Law and Technology, Masaryk University

Roger Clarke **

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Conversations about security often involve people talking at cross-purposes. This is because the meaning of the term 'security' is relative. It depends on the particular values that particular stakeholders perceive in particular assets, and the particular harm that those values might come to. Yet people seldom take the trouble to clarify which stakeholders, assets, values and harm they are talking about, even to themselves, let alone to other people. The notion of 'national security' embodies many additional semantic ambiguities.

The difficulties created by these 'contested semantics' is evident in such current challenges as Big Data Analytics, and the Internet of Things.

Cybersecurity initiatives need to be subjected to an effective evaluation process. The established techniques of Risk Assessment and Risk Management usually adopt a narrow, single-stakeholder approach. Broader evaluation methods are needed, in order to reflect the interests of multiple stakeholders.

Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in Cyberspace Law & Policy at the University of N.S.W., and a Visiting Professor in the Computer Science at the Australian National University.

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From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

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Created: 1 August 2016 - Last Amended: 17 October 2016 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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