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Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Expertise

Technology and development in China and India; East Asian security; Chinese domestic and foreign policy; cyberconflict, cybersecurity

Programs

Roundtable Series on Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity , Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program , U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series

Bio

Adam Segal is the Maurice R. Greenberg senior fellow for China studies and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on security issues, technology development, and Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Dr. Segal was the project director for the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet. His book Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge (W.W. Norton, 2011) looks at the technological rise of Asia. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, The EconomistForeign PolicyThe Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs, among others. He currently writes for the blog, "Net Politics."

Before coming to CFR, Dr. Segal was an arms control analyst for the China Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. There, he wrote about missile defense, nuclear weapons, and Asian security issues. He has been a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and Tsinghua University in Beijing. He has taught at Vassar College and Columbia University. Dr. Segal is the author of Digital Dragon: High-Technology Enterprises in China (Cornell University Press, 2003), as well as several articles and book chapters on Chinese technology policy.

Dr. Segal has a BA and PhD in government from Cornell University, and an MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

The Geopolitics of Cyberspace

During the Cold War, many of the most intense ideological and political struggles revolved around the organization of economic systems. Even among Western allies, there were differences over the state's role in the market, the distribution of benefits between labor and capital, and the degree of openness to international trade. The competition over economic systems of course continues but is now joined by a new conflict over the organization and ownership of data and information—how states create and regulate new information, defend it, and deploy it as a weapon against their adversaries. In my forthcoming book, The Geopolitics of Cyberspace, I describe this new conflict, explain how rising cyber power states are developing, and suggest a set of policies that improve the United States' ability to advance its interests in and through cyberspace. I direct CFR's Program on Digital and Cyberspace Policy, oversee a roundtable on cybersecurity,and have written about cyber threats to the oil and gas industry. I blog at Net Politics and was the projector director of a CFR Independent Task Force on U.S. policy toward cyberspace.

Cyberspace and U.S.-China Relations

Both the United States and China have identified cyberspace as critical to their economic and national security, and have adopted a number of domestic and international strategies in order to shape the Internet. At the same time, each country is likely to see the other as an important, if not the main, impediment to the pursuit of its interests in cyberspace. Washington and Beijing differ on the international governance of cyberspace, the definition and legitimacy of espionage, and the balance between the values of national sovereignty and the free flow of information. U.S. and Chinese technology companies battle over customers, international standards, and access to markets, the subject of my last book, Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge.Yet, the two sides have a shared interest in preventing third party attacks on critical infrastructure and in developing confidence building measures in the areas of cyber conflict. In my blog posts at Asia Unbound and Forbes,writings in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, and other media outlets, and by hosting a roundtable series, I explore how the two sides can stem the growing distrust and suggest workable policies.

Featured Publications

Task Force Report No. 70

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet

The CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To support security, innovation, growth, and the free flow of information, the Task Force recommends that the United States and its partners work to build a cyber alliance, make the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements, and articulate an inclusive and robust vision of Internet governance.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Internet Policy

All Publications

Other Report

Holding the Multistakeholder Line at the ITU

Author: Adam Segal

Adam Segal explains the U.S. approach at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, South Korea, where the United States is looking to defend its approach to Internet governance. Washington and its allies favor the "multistakeholder" model: a bottom-up policy process that includes organizations representing technical experts, governments, businesses, civil society, and individual users.

See more in Global; Internet Policy; International Organizations and Alliances

Ask CFR Experts

Is the threat of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" as potent as some have suggested?

Asked by James Bingham, from King's College, London

The phrase "cyber Pearl Harbor" received attention when it by former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta in a speech about U.S. vulnerability to cyberwarfare threats. It is best understood as an effort to shape the domestic political debate and as a description of a potential future scenario, rather than as an accurate description of the cybersecurity threat.

Read full answer

See more in Cybersecurity; United States

Task Force Report No. 70

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet

The CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To support security, innovation, growth, and the free flow of information, the Task Force recommends that the United States and its partners work to build a cyber alliance, make the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements, and articulate an inclusive and robust vision of Internet governance.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Internet Policy

Op-Ed

Shaming Chinese Hackers Won't Work Because Cyber Espionage is Here to Stay

Author: Adam Segal
The Guardian

In preparation for President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama's meeting in California on June 7-9, Adam Segal writes, "The presidents won't come to any agreements next week, but over the course of the two days, they should try and dispel the growing mistrust by explaining their national interests and intentions in cyberspace."

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; China

Article

The People's Republic of Hacking

Author: Adam Segal
Foreign Policy

Adam Segal says the recent Chinese cyberattacks on Bloomberg and the New York Times highlights both the willingness of Beijing to shape the narrative about China, as well as the vulnerability the top leadership feels about how they are portrayed.

See more in Cybersecurity; China

Foreign Affairs Article

Chinese Computer Games

Author: Adam Segal

In March 2011, the U.S. computer security company RSA announced that hackers had gained access to security tokens it produces that let millions of government and private-sector employees, including those of defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, connect remotely to their office computers.

See more in China; Cybersecurity

Video

Cybersecurity and the Private Sector

Interviewer: Adam Segal
Interviewee: Edward Amoroso

AT&T's Chief Security Officer, Edward Amoroso, discusses the recent spate of cyberattacks and how governments and the private sector can help protect infrastructure and prevent future attacks with Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

See more in Cybersecurity; Global

Recent Activity from Net Politics

Events

Roundtable Series on Cyberconflict and Cybersecurity

Staff: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
Director: James P. Dougherty, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Business and Foreign Policy
September 23, 2009—Present

This roundtable series brings together policymakers, scholars, and private sector specialists to explore the growing threats in cyberspace to the U.S. economy and security.

Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Staff: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
Director: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
Fellows: Jared Cohen, Adjunct Senior Fellow, James P. Dougherty, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Business and Foreign Policy, Richard A. Falkenrath, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow for Digital Policy
2009—Present

The Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program addresses one of the most challenging issues facing the country in the 21st century: how to keep the global Internet open, secure, and resilient in the face of unprecedented threats. Digital technologies have become ubiquitous. More than six billion people use a cell phone, and five billion will be on the Internet by 2020. These trends have generated immense wealth and expanded political participation, but they have also created new vulnerabilities for nations, corporations, and individuals.

U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series

Directors: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, and Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program
July 1, 2007—Present

The U.S.-Asia Update Roundtable Series provides a forum for discussion of the major issues that shape Chinese domestic policies, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian regional dynamics. This series is made possible through generous support from the Starr Foundation.

CFR Events

North Korean Cyberattack on Sony Pictures

Speakers: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations, Scott A. Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: Robert McMahon, Editor, CFR.org
December 22, 2014 3:00–4:00 p.m. ()

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Session III: Busan: What Happened and What Comes Next?

Speakers: Christopher Painter, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, U.S. Department of State , Daniel Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State , Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, U.S. Department of Commerce 
Presider: Nuala O’Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for Democracy & Technology 
Closing Speaker: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Director, Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, David Rockefeller Studies Program, Council on Foreign Relations
November 20, 2014 11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. () - Lunch and closing remarks, 12:45-1:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The Future of Internet Governance

Speakers: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Project Director, CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, Council on Foreign Relations, Daniel Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO, Internet Matters; Former President and CEO, Internet Society
Presider: Catherine Lotrionte, Associate Director, Institute for International Law & Politics, Georgetown University
May 15, 2014 12:00–12:30 p.m. () - Registration and Reception
12:30–1:30 p.m. () - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet: Report of the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age

Speakers: John D. Negroponte, Vice Chairman, McLarty Associates; Former Deputy Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence; Task Force Co-Chair, Samuel J. Palmisano, Former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation; Task Force Co-Chair, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Task Force Project Director
Presider: Vivian Schiller, Chief Digital Officer, NBC News
June 10, 2013 12:00–12:30 p.m. () - Lunch Reception
12:30–1:30 p.m. () - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet: Report of the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age

Panelists: John D. Negroponte, Vice Chairman, McLarty Associates; Former Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State; Former Director of National Intelligence; Task Force Chair, Samuel J. Palmisano, Former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation; Task Force Chair, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Task Force Director
Presider: Jacob M. Weisberg, Chairman, The Slate Group
June 6, 2013 1:00–1:30 p.m. () - Lunch
1:30–2:30 p.m. () - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

China, Cybersecurity, and Crisis Stability

Speaker: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Moderator: Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
April 25, 2013 12:00–1:00 p.m. () - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

The Business Impact of a Changing Cyber Landscape

Speaker: Edward Amoroso, Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer, AT&T Services, Inc.
Presider: Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies Council on Foreign Relations
June 15, 2011 6:30–7:00 p.m. () - Dinner Reception
7:00–8:00 p.m. () - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Watch

China 2025: Panel Two: China Goes Global

Panelists: Evan A. Feigenbaum, Senior Fellow for East, Central, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, David H. Shinn, Adjunct Professor, George Washington University
Moderator: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
October 19, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The U.S.-Chinese Economic Relationship: Symbiotic or Antagonistic

Speakers: Zachary Karabell, President, River Twice; Author, Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World’s Prosperity Depends on It, Stephen S. Roach, Chairman, Morgan Stanley Asia; Author, The Next Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Globalization, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: David R. Malpass, President, Encima Global, LLC
October 15, 2009 5:00–5:15 p.m. () - Reception
5:15–6:15 p.m. () - Meeting
6:15–6:45 p.m. () - Cocktail Reception

This meeting is not for attribution.

ListenWatch

Koppel on Discovery: The People's Republic of Capitalism

Speakers: Ted Koppel, Managing Editor, Discovery Channel, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: David E. Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
June 26, 2008 6:30–7:30 p.m. () - Cocktail Buffet Reception
7:30–8:15 p.m. () - Screening
8:15–9:00 p.m. () - Discussion

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

High-Tech China: Challenges and Opportunities

Speakers: William T Archey, President & CEO, American Electronics Association, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow in China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: Anne G.K. Solomon, Senior Adviser, Technology Policy, Center for Strategic and International Studies
January 18, 2006

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

Independent Task Force on Chinese Military Power

Speakers: Harold Brown, Chair; Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Council on Foreign Relations, Joseph Prueher, Vice-Chair; Former Ambassador to China and Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Adam Segal, Project Director; Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow, China Studies
May 22, 2003

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

APEC, Al-Qaeda, and Shifting Alliances: New Dynamics in the Asia Pacific Region

Speakers: Jagdish N. Bhagwati, André Meyer Senior Fellow in International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, Eugene A. Matthews, Senior Fellow, Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Adam Segal, Olin Fellow, Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Calvin Sims, Senior Fellow, Southeast Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director, Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
October 17, 2002

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

Press/Panels

Radio Interview

Hackers Access Information of 4 Million Government Employees

Speaking with KCRW's "To the Point," Council on Foreign Relations expert on China and cybersecurity Adam Segal discusses the breach of the Office of Personnel Management's records, possible sources of the attack, and how the U.S. can respond.

Listen

Video Interview

China Bashes US Allegations of Cyber-attacks

Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program Adam Segal discusses U.S. claims that China is responsible for the cyber-attack against U.S. federal workers.

Watch

Radio Interview

The Bob Rivers Show

Adam Segal discusses Chinese cyber economic espionage on the Bob Rivers Show.

Listen

Video Interview

Push for Cyber Diplomacy

Adam Segal appears on FOX Business news to discuss the push for cyber diplomacy in President Barack Obama's meeting with Xi Jinping in California.

Watch

Panel

Arms Race vs. Relay Race: What Does Innovation Hold for China?

Adam Segal discusses doubts about China's ability to ever become an innovation superpower. Will China succeed at fostering creative incubators on par with Silicon Valley and America’s great research universities? And, contrary to the zero-sum nature of political rhetoric, should Americans root for China’s innovators?

Watch