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Internet Penetration and Political Protest:

The Global and Regional Politics of Internet Use and Regulation

Jaclyn A. Kerr
jak77@georgetown.edu Center for New Media and Society, NES

September 18, 2013

Research Questions:

Why has growing Internet use coincided with the development of powerful protest movements in some states but not in others? What explains why some countries have tightly restricted Internet use while others have let it freely develop?

Civic Engagement & Political Protest

Arab Spring 2010-2011

Liberation Technologies?

Russian Blogosphere Map


Berkman Center, 2011

Map of Election Violations


GOLOS, March 4, 2012

ICTs in Civic & Political Engagement

Groups & Association Media & Public Discourse IT & Social Entrepreneurship Activism & Protest Mobilization

Variety of Affordances & Mechanisms

Example:
Video Sharing / Bypass State Media

Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan, December 16, 2011

Example:
Protest Movement Mobilization

Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2012

But Context Matters

Aktau, August 2012

Political Political Context Context Matters Matters

Regime type Internet regulation Relationship of online & offline freedoms

Internet used differently in different settings!

State Internet Regulation


The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Gilmore, 1993

[T]here are now a wide variety of technical and nontechnical means at [governments] disposal to shape and limit the online flow of information.
Ronald Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski, 2010

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State Internet Regulation

Uzbekistan Site Blocking

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State Internet Regulation

Qatar Site Blocking

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Restrictive Internet & ICT Policies


First Generation
Site Blocking Keyword Filtering Manual Content Censorship Complete Cellular or Internet Network Shutdowns Network Traffic Slowdowns Walled Garden Intranets

Next Generation
Restrictive Legal Measures Informal Take-Down Requests Regulation of Private Companies Just-In-Time Blocking / DDoS Attacks Patriotic Hacking / Trolling / Blogging Targeted Surveillance Physical / Legal Attacks
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Digital Dictators Dilemma


Why have Internet and information technology policy choices differed so markedly across authoritarian and hybrid regimes?
What factors have influenced state decisions to adopt more- or less- restrictive approaches, and how durable are these choices once taken?
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Internet Policy as Norm Adoption

1. State Characteristics 2. Interdependencies (International / Regional) 3. Global Context & Trends

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State Characteristics

Offline Regime Type (Policy-Linkage)


Internet Penetration Protest Levels (Perceived Stability Risk) Perceived Restriction Legitimacy Economic Costs / Benefits Technical Restriction Capacity
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International & Regional Interdependencies


International Pressure

Regime Vulnerability
Restrictive Neighbors & Peers

Global Trends & Context

Growing Global ICT Penetration Changes in Global Internet Infrastructure Arab Spring as Exogenous Shock Global Norm Trends / Legal Contestation

State Characteristics & Policy Choice

GCC Region

Asymmetry

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International & Regional Factors

GCC

FSU
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Internet Regulation: Findings


Policy-linkage alone doesnt explain
Penetration rate alone doesnt explain Domestic instability Regional clusters Policy divergence? Future for Hybrid Regimes???
Why Russia matters
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Why Russia Matters

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Internet Blacklist Law, November 1, 2012

Asymmetry

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Example:
Protect Kok-Jailau

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Example:
Air Pollution Zombie Parade Flash Mobs

Ust-Kamenogorsk, August 2012

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Example:

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Global Internet Future?

Internet Freedom Promotion Growing Restrictions Role of Companies Increasing State Control
Future of the Internet and activism?
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Questions?
We couldnt have a blogger like Navalny

Moscow, March 2012

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