What is Information Warfare? Will it replace the military war?
02-08-2020 1 Comment UPSC - IAS Chandan Singh Virat ✅

War is an outcome of serious disagreements. These disagreements can be on account of ideological differences, personal profitability, the establishment of suzerainty, demarcation of boundaries, etc. Information Warfare is an indirect way of confrontation. It is the use of information technology’s equipments, and its systems to build a narrative which can be counterfeit in nature. Information warfare simply means conformation or building a misinformation with an intent to project the adversary in a very bad light.

When it comes to information warfare, there are two ways to understand the term.

  1. Information protection
  2. Information attack

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Information Protection

This is basically defensive in nature for example – China does not allow any of the foreign companies to operate in China. They have their own Social media like – Weibo, QQ, WeChat, etc, One of the most popular social media Facebook does not exist there, even if that exists they operate in virtual networks. In this way, China completely controls the information so that any injustice or illegality that is committed by the Chines regime against its citizens will not come out to the World. All the information Chines want about China and their perception from the outside world is completely filtered out. Hiding or filtering any information to protect its own interests is called as information protection.

Information Attack

It is basically offensive in nature. The information is manipulated to harm the reputation of the adversary. There is an alteration of information with an intent to distort to opponent’s image of reality. This technique can be adopted by one country against another country. One country may manipulate the data and put it on all the technological upgradations. This manipulation is typically done through the Social Media and or through the advanced technology by using Graphics, Videos, Audio editing, and another kind of literary works as well.

China’s Corona Virus, Information Warfare is one such instance, we know for the fact that this SARS Corona Virus – 2 originated from China however, China was not able to give the requisite amount of information on the right time, the world is suffering because of COVID – 19. China created doubts over the origins of the Virus and China has also demonstrated its effectiveness in managing the crisis.

India and Nepal Border dispute: India and Nepal have a good cultural relationship, however, India’s Neighboring Countries China and Pakistan very recently tried to create a dismal image of India that – India is not at all helping Nepal but at the same time they created the conception that it is Pakistan and China who always have been the friends of Nepal and thinking for the welfare of Nepal. Chinese and Pakistan governments have also propagated religious and racial misinformation to gain internal support. As soon the certain perception has successfully created the people in Nepal started going against India and later there were multiple political disagreements and backlashes witnessed all resulting in the recent border tensions between India and Nepal.

Can it replace the military war?

Because of the increasing relevance of Information Technology all of us start using mobile phones, we have access to YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Because of such a large number of users on these platforms, one can reach to max of them very easily. Information warfare is inexpensive as the targeted party can deliver a paralyzing blow without spending a single rupee.

Information warfare is also another part of physiological warfare where you create a perception or narrative about what you perceive is only right.

The countries in the world have been emerged in expanding their defensive systems, the governments have also been spending their large share of GDP in developing the – Heavy aircrafts, Missiles, Nuclear weapons, and advanced armed devices. Developing such kind of advanced and futuristic weapons takes a lot of time. All gives enormous possibilities of replacing the Physiological Warfare or traditional military war as information warfare can cause huge damage alone across the globe it avails a feature of achieving the targets even without wasting a single bullet.

Alternatively, the practice of Information warfare can be adopted in the modern era because of such advantages –

No direct war: There is no military confrontation in the battlefield frontline and cyber attackers have the potential to disrupt societies without any direct war.

Less expensive: Information warfare is inexpensive as the targeted party can deliver a paralyzing blow without spending a single rupee.

No face: Prudently planned and well-coordinated cyberwar leaves zero evidence thereafter, it is hard to trace the attacker (s) or discover the original sources.

No physical presence: In electronic warfare, attackers are not required to physically enter into an organization, a nation, or in a State. They just need to have the proper access of electronic communication systems.

Implications of Information Warfare

Political misinformation: One country, Like Pakistan and China, can use religion and race for their own advantages to bring internal divides within another country or soiety they can also gain the simultaeous political mileage externally.

Twisting Facts: When the information is misinterpreted or misrepresented the people of that country can go against their country, the country is likely to lose the political will as well. There is a Political party in any country and if certain number of people become part of this the political party will go against the narrative of the Nation. For example – recent violence subjected by one community to another while showing dissent against the Citizenship amendment, Act in India.

Similarly, Pakistan and China have also been able to twist the facts with reference to Bangladesh and also with reference to Nepal as well. The problem is that when this happens to a country, the nation falls to maintain the good relationship with that country. Nepal can also be a great example in this scenario.

Information superiority: The purpose behind this is to create a strong image of oneself and to bring down the image of the adversary.

Way Forward

Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all citizens the right to freedom of Speech and Expression however some prescriptions in form of restrictions are also imposed these restrictions already prohibits the propagation or circulation of any – Literary works or visual works like – Painting, movies, etc which may incite the public disturbances. It also provides banning of the fack videos, hate speech, instigating messages or morphed images, etc.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 in India also prohibits the misuse of any electronic communication network. However, irrespective of these provisions we are still not able to control the circulation of fake news in India due to poor implementation of the law and a weaker attitude of the legal agencies and its officials.

If required, we need to come up with some new legislations and then implement them all new and old legislations strictly on the ground so that we can combat any type of misinformation or propaganda that is being spread through the Social or Mainstream media within or beyond the territory of India.

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