Rosalind Campion

Rosalind Campion

Counsellor for Global Issues

13th January 2012 Washington DC, USA

The Internet, Diplomacy, and My Mother

Long before I knew I was coming to DC, I saw Alec Ross, Senior Advisor on Innovation to Secretary Clinton, give a talk at the London School of Economics on foreign policy in the era of social media. He argued to an enthusiastic London audience that high speed Internet is the infrastructure of the 21st century (and would be as transformative as rail had been in the 19th century). At the time I wondered whether one could really say – this early on in the 21st century – what the narrative for a century will be. But I was very cheery to receive an invitation to the first in the 2012 series of State of the Administration talks—where the Administration hosts different speakers before an audience of Washington’s foreign Ambassadors—with Alec as the main speaker.

Alec argued today that whilst so many talk about the shift of power from the West to the East, the real seismic change that is happening is one of hierarchy—power moving from the state to the individual. His argument was that connectedness disrupts traditional geopolitical power—and that this is something which governments need to work out how to adapt to (unlike Darwin, his view is that it is the most adaptable to change that survive). I could see Ambassadors around the room resolving to get onto Twitter.

This is something I’ve seen for myself. Leaving London for DC, I decided that the moment had come to get my mother to embrace the Internet. This is no easy feat. But her interest sparked when she heard about the British Government’s e-petitions policy. In brief, an e-petition can be created about anything that the Government is responsible for and if it gets 100,000 signatures or more then it is eligible for a debate in our House of Commons. For my mother—who cares about politics but has never participated in it, this was revelatory.

The British e-petition program proved revolutionary for others as well. Not long after the UK launched their program the Americans followed suit. The White House launched ‘We The People,’ a website aimed at allowing citizens to engage directly with the White House online by creating and signing petitions, to bring their issues to the attention of the federal government.

As for me, I’m ashamed to still be living without Twitter since arriving in Washington, since I still don’t have a US phone contract.

One comment on “The Internet, Diplomacy, and My Mother

  1. My son in the high school forced me on the internet through my telephone…Now I have seen how vast you(i.e. anyone willing) can contribute to the betterment of the WORLD…The policies in the Nations of the WORLD today are being immensely influenced and oriented by this new technology called connection technology, whether anyone takes it or not.

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About Rosalind Campion

Rosalind Campion was appointed Counsellor for Global Issues at the British Embassy in Washington DC in 2011. Her team works on policy issues including trade, business, energy, the environment, science, innovation and transport.

Originally a corporate lawyer working in London on intellectual property issues, Roz was most recently with the Ministry of Justice, where she set up and ran the Sentencing Council, the national organisation responsible for ensuring a consistent approach to criminal sentencing by the UK’s judiciary.

She has previous experience working on foreign policy issues, including during her time at the Ministry of Justice, as well as through her work with the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and as a lawyer working on international law cases for a top human rights litigation firm.

During her time in academia, Roz was responsible for the public international law programme at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, where she specialised in international trade and environment law.

She lives in Georgetown with her partner, Dr Layla McCay.

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