From the former news policy lead at Google, an “informative and often harrowing wake-up call” (Publishers Weekly) that explains the high-stakes global cyberwar brewing between Western democracies and the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia that could potentially crush democracy.
From 2016 to 2020, Jacob Helberg led Google’s global internal product policy efforts to combat disinformation and foreign interference. During this time, he found himself in the midst of what can only be described as a quickly escalating two-front technology cold war between democracy and autocracy.
On the front-end, we’re fighting to control the software—applications, news information, social media platforms, and more—of what we see on the screens of our computers, tablets, and phones, a clash which started out primarily with Russia but now increasingly includes China and Iran. Even more ominously, we’re also engaged in a hidden back-end battle—largely with China—to control the internet’s hardware, which includes devices like cellular phones, satellites, fiber-optic cables, and 5G networks.
This tech-fueled war will shape the world’s balance of power for the coming century as autocracies exploit 21st-century methods to redivide the world into 20th-century-style spheres of influence. Without a firm partnership with the government, Silicon Valley is unable to protect democracy from the autocrats looking to sabotage it from Beijing to Moscow and Tehran. Helberg offers “unnervingly convincing evidence that time is running out in the ‘gray war’ with the enemies of freedom” (Kirkus Reviews) which could affect every meaningful aspect of our lives, including our economy, our infrastructure, our national security, and ultimately, our national sovereignty.