Digital Dictatorship or Freedom Technology?

21sep2016 17:00 - 18:30


The effects of the Internet on authoritarian rule are ambiguous. Citizens of China, Iran or Malaysia are using the Internet to spread information about corruption or to organize a protest meeting. But some websites in these countries are also blocked, dissidents targeted by cyberattacks, and critical messages drowned by regime propaganda. Our expert panel will engage with the question: how do authoritarian regimes handle the Internet?

What do we know about authoritarianism and the Internet today? Can the internet be good for authoritarian stability? Anita Gohdes (University of Zurich) will talk about the role of Internet control and surveillance in the cat and mouse game between government and opposition during the early stages of the Syrian conflict. Marcus Michaelsen (UvA) will discuss how Iranian activists who went into exile are subject to online harassment by state actors. Christian Göbel (University of Vienna) explains how China’s rulers allow citizens to vent grievances through online platforms in order to strengthen their hold on power. Jaclyn Kerr (Georgetown University) will give an overview of the policies of control and regulation that authoritarian regimes have adopted to prevent the Internet having a destabilizing influence. Philip N. Howard (Oxford University) will act as commentator.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.


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