Study: Internet erodes democratic protections

Jan 07, 2014

Claims that the internet will "democratize" the global village are not supported by research published in the International Journal of Electronic Governance. Instead, non-democratic governments simply exploit the networks to spy on and control their citizens more effectively and efficiently than they did before.

In a post-Snowden NSA revelation world, many pundits have suggested that the age of true democracy is upon us as social lobbyists, citizen advocates and others claw back the agenda from those who rule them. We have witnessed it seems revolution via Twitter and Facebook in many parts of the world, while information and telecommunications technology has given oppressed individuals and groups the power to gradually loosen their shackles. But, as Snowden's whistleblowing regarding the international eavesdropping carried out by the so-called most free of democracies, the United States of America, showed, even those nations in which it is the people that purportedly wield the power, nothing is quite as it seems.

Now, researcher Martin Karlsson of Örebro University in Sweden has trawled the data on e-participation the world over and found that the Internet rather than being the great democratizing "carrot" it is yet another stick with which authoritarian, and supposedly non-authoritarian, governments can beat their into submission. Among the dozens of nations that lack a formal democratic voting system, availability of the internet to the populace, he says, is at best an inconvenience in the quest to control but more worryingly from the individual's point of view it provides the means to exact the opposite of democracy again and again from Egypt to Uzbekistan and from China to Saudi Arabia by way of Cuba, Ethiopia, Syria, Vietnam, Iran and many other authoritarian nations.

Moreover, Karlsson has found that the non-democratic nations make the internet not merely a stick but a double-edged sword, to mix a metaphor. They offer their citizens superficially free, uncensored access, although the simplest of unveilings generally reveals this to be a mere façade while at the same time using this access to monitor their citizens and to control behavior in the most insidious way.

"The most pressing question relating to the development of e-participation in the non-democratic world is not if the internet fosters democratization but rather how the democratic world will react to this dual strategy of internet governance characteristics of those non-democratic countries that engage in e-participation," says Karlsson. He is hopeful that ultimately the non-democratic nations will succumb to international pressure and to the urgency with which their oppressed citizens find alternative routes to otherwise censored information and blocked ICT tools.

Explore further: World writers demand UN charter to curb state surveillance

More information: "Carrots and sticks: Internet governance in non-democratic regimes." Martin Karlsson. Int. J. of Electronic Governance, 2013 Vol.6, No.3, pp.179 - 186. DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2013.058405

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User comments : 5

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Returners
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2014
Riiiiiiight....only the media, corporations, and individual citizens should have the ability to spy on everyone.

Google has a picture of your house and yard, and entire neighbourhood, from 10 different street level angles on the internet, and if you or your family were outside on the day the van passed, they probably have several pictures of you or your 6 yrs old child on the map as well, and yet you're blaming the government for spying on you or endangering you.

Sheesh, any thief or pervert in the country can study the google maps of your neighbourhood and plan a Special Forces type break-in based solely on that, since Google actually have better intelligence on your house than the Government does on terrorist or criminal targets.

You people are so out of touch it's a joke.

If Google can give maps of our homes and businesses, free of charge to anyone on the internet, including terrorists, then you're damned right I want the government to have all the spies and spy-bot programs.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2014
For returners and his pathetic ilk...
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." Thomas Jefferson

Those who lived in Germany several decades ago are seeing deja vu all over again.
http://endoftheam...complete
Zephir_fan
Jan 07, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2014
Actually, Cantdrive, that was a pretty good quote...
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2014
Google has a picture of your house and yard, and entire neighbourhood

@Returners
I can guarantee Google does NOT have any street level pics of my house or yard, and all the sat-views are outdated by at least ten years and only show the top of a barn. Still no updated photo's from Google earth for my place.

if you or your family were outside on the day the van passed

you cant even SEE our yard/house from the road that passes our property.
study the google maps of your neighbourhood and plan a Special Forces type break-in based solely on that

nope. Like I said, you can only see woods and an old barn (that is no longer there)
You people are so out of touch it's a joke.

methinks it is YOU who has the issues.
I keep tabs on my place. In fact, if you plug in my 911 address, you get a location that is more than 35 miles away.
and i wouldn't change it for the world

@returners
ya didnt get those meds checked, did ya?

ya better get them addressed!
dav_daddy
not rated yet Jan 22, 2014

Sheesh, any thief or pervert in the country can study the google maps of your neighbourhood and plan a Special Forces type break-in based Google actually have better intelligence on your house than the Government does on terrorist or criminal.

That is rediculous. If I were planning a raid somewhere I'd want a hell of a lot more than a low res pic taken lord knows how many years ago from a car driven down the street.

Use G-maps would be is to make sure I am on the right street. The addresses in G-maps are nearly useless and 96% of the house numbers are unreadable due to poor image quality.

If Google can give maps of our homes and busineses including terrorists, then you're damned right I want the government to have all the spies and spy-bot program

So because anyone can get a map of your home/business that means you want the gov't to record every piece of correspondence you write, web site you visit, & log all your movements?

You reasoning is very, VERY naive at best