The New Digital Age: Book Warns of a Dangerous Future China

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has a book due in April, The New Digital Age, whichexplores the changing technology landscape and how authoritarian governments will seek greater control over Web content in the future. The book criticizes China as “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” and mentions China’s state-led efforts to use hacking as a tool against other nations or corporations.

“The new book is co-written by Jared Cohen, a 31-year old former State Department big shot who now runs Google Ideas, the search giant’s think tank,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The book builds on their 2010 essay “The Digital Disruption” in which the pair predicts “governments will be caught off-guard when large numbers of their citizens, armed with virtually nothing but cell phones, take part in mini-rebellions that challenge their authority.”

When discussing the differences between America and China, Schmidt and Cohen explain “the United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play.”

The book also mentions cases of American cyber spying. One such case involved Americans infecting Iranian nuclear plants with the Stuxnet virus.

“The pair even speculate that the Internet could eventually fracture into pieces, some controlled by an alliance of states that are relatively tolerant and free, and others by groupings that want their citizens to take part in a less rowdy and open online life,” writes WSJ. “Companies doing business with the latter could find themselves shunned from the former, the book suggests.”

They add that modern technological tools — such as hardware like smartphones or software in the form of Twitter — creates an unstable Internet and unstable world. This could lead to more revolutions, they argue.

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