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Internet, Free Expression, Authoritarianism talk at Georgetown University

Internet, Free Expression, Authoritarianism talk at Georgetown University

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  • Evgeny -
    This is a fantastic set of slides that present a compelling counterargument to the notion that the Internet is inherently democratic. Thanks so much for posting this. I wish I could have seen the talk.
    Joshua-Michéle Ross
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    georgetown talk evgeny morozov georgetown talk evgeny morozov Presentation Transcript

    • The Internet, Free Expression, and Authoritarianism Evgeny Morozov NOV 16/2009
    • US Presidents ♥ the Internets "The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip" Ronald Reagan, 1989 Photo: National Archives “Trying to control the Internet is like trying to nail Jell-o to the wall” Bill Clinton, 2000 Photo: White House “Imagine if the Internet took hold in China. Imagine how freedom would spread" Photo: White House John Lennon George Bush, 1999
    • Main tenets of cyber-utopianism... 1. Internet provides unfettered access to info, making dissent/revolt more likely 2. Internet helps to raise awareness of crackdowns/injustices, putting new pressures on regimes 3. Internet empowers dissidents & activists, making them more effective/louder than before 4. Internet provides new ways for Western govts (and their citizens) to influence developments in authoritarian states
    • Therefore... => The Internet erodes the power of the (authoritarian) state
    • Main tenets of cyber-utopianism... 1. Internet provides unfettered access to info, making dissent/revolt more likely 2. Internet helps to raise awareness of crackdowns/injustices, putting new pressures on regimes 3. Internet empowers dissidents & activists, making them more effective/louder than before 4. Internet provides new ways for Western govts (and their citizens) to influence developments in authoritarian states
    • Does technology erode state power? “The role of the nation state will change dramatically and there will be no more room for nationalism than there is for smallpox...” Being Digital (1996), Nicolas Negroponte
    • How Authoritarian Governments Benefit from WWW 1. Spread propaganda/advance their own agenda (“spinternet”) 2. Generate useful info & add legitimacy (“authoritarian deliberation”) 3. Monitor/identify dissent early on (“gulag 2.0”)
    • I. The Rise of the “Spinternet”
    • China's 50 Cent Party (wumaodang) ~280,000 members Regular National/Local Trainings “Priority” Sites Required to Cooperate
    • Russia: “New Media Stars” start-up
    • “Researching the basic ways of promoting state interests with the help of specialized social networks”
    • Kremlin: generou$ propaganda • In 2010 Russia will spend more on propaganda than on fighting unemployment • Budgets of online-only state media up by 75% despite the crisis • Huge increase in international outreach
    • Iran: Spinning Religious Discourse “Bureau for the Development of Religious Web Logs” established at the Religious School of Qom in 2006 350 teachers and clergy in Qom were trained, with at least 800 students Particular concern: blogging women
    • Iranian blogosphere: 2008
    • Iranian blogosphere: 2009
    • Iranian efforts pay off
    • Nigeria's “Anti-Blogging” Project
    • Who'll lead Egypt's Facebook revolution?
    • Is message control via Digg and Wikipedia more difficult/less effective than via Pravda?
    • Subvert and Profit
    • Gameabiliy and astroturfing
    • Facebook friends at 20 cents/friend
    • Aggressive Search Engine Optimization
    • Also: the UK
    • “Knowledge transfer”
    • Spinning vs Censoring Photo by Mr.Enjoy/Flickr CC
    • Streisand effect to blame
    • II. “Authoritarian Deliberation” Photo by dunechaser/Flickr CC
    • Russia: Bloggers' Chamber “Instead [of becoming a base for the civil society], RuNet has become home to various antisocial and criminal elements...these people must feel the hand of the government Internet censorship. Censorship efforts should be very selective, very responsible, and very careful. And they should follow the deliberations of the national consultative body that would be comprised of the leading Internet personalities and bloggers. This new consultative body should develop a set of rules guiding "tolerant online behavior" that would help to extirpate all virtual confrontation” Sergey Mironov, Sept 30/2009
    • “We pay great attention to suggestions and advice from our netizens. The web is an important channel for us to understand the concerns of the public and assemble the wisdom of the public”. Hu Jintao, 2008
    • Often more critical than official media Ashley Esarey, based on 2006 data/500 blogs
    • China: “Elude the Cat”
    • Uses of “authoritarian deliberation” 1. Generate information useful to government: wikis 2. Share the blame for failed policies with the public: spin 3. Increase legitimacy (both at home and abroad): scale
    • Authoritarian Deliberation in China “CCP gains the ability to legitimate policies by reference to a relatively inclusive deliberation process rather than to an official ideology... This increases the political capacities of the CCP while furthering the careers of party officials” He Baogang and Mark Warren, ““The Deliberative Turn in Chinese Political Development””
    • Kremlin's new project: Liberty.ru
    • Pavlovsky on Liberty.ru “Liberty.ru will help political parties tap into collective wisdom, see what people are really concerned about; the parties would even be able to borrow some major policy points from these online discussions” Gleb Pavlovsky, 2009
    • Thailand: Crowdsourcing Censorship
    • Saudi Arabia's “flagging” campaign
    • III. Monitoring & Identifying Dissent Early On
    • Do we lose more than we gain? "The myth of personal empowerment takes root amidst a massive loss of personal control." Joshua-Michele Ross
    • China: TRS Technologies “Currently [the police force] still does surveillance via keyword searches on search engines, with every Marketing managera certain number of keywords to officer being given of the 200-people-strong TRS Technologies cover...We equipped eight police stations in Shanghai with our data-mining equipment...Now the work of 10 internet cops can be done by just one” • Marketing Manager, TRS Technologies (200+ staff)
    • Thank you! Blog: neteffect.foreignpolicy.com Twitter: evgenymorozov