Hacker, Influencer, Faker, Spy
Intelligence Agencies in the Digital Age
Analyses how espionage operates in the age of rapid technological development, identity politics, plausible deniability, uncertainty and distrust of authority
Intelligence agencies are reflections of the societies they serve. No surprise, then, that modern spies and the agencies they work for are fixated on the internet and electronic communications. These same officials also struggle with notions of privacy, appropriateness, national boundaries and the problem of disinformation. They are citizens of both somewhere and nowhere, serving a national public yet confronting spies who operate across borders. These adversaries are utilising new technologies that offer a transnational anonymity. Meanwhile, ordinary people are keen to be protected from threats, but equally keen – basing their understanding of intelligence on news and popular culture – to avoid over-reach by authorities believed to have near-God-like powers.
This is the new operating environment for spies: a heady mix of rapid technological development, identity politics, plausible deniability, uncertainty and distrust of authority. Hacker, Influencer, Faker, Spy explores both the challenges spies face from these digital horizons, and the challenges citizens face in understanding what spies do and how it impacts on them. Rob Dover makes a radical case for overhauling intelligence to capitalise on open-source information: shrinking the secret state, whilst still supporting the functioning of modern governments in the post-COVID age.
Rob Dover is Associate Professor in Intelligence and International Security at the University of Leicester.