All posts tagged with 'net neutrality'
Andrew Hare is currently completing his Master’s degree in Media Studies at The New School in New York City. His current work focuses on intersections between globalization, politics, philosophy and technology. Mr. Hare graduated from The University of Iowa with a Film degree and Art History minor. Mr. Hare works full-time as a primary research associate at an independent media research and consulting firm. He is also a regular contributor to gnovis, Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology blog.
A State-Run Internet: Developing an Authoritarian Internet Ontology of Control
While it is easy to relate the concepts of open source architecture and net neutrality as logical corollaries for the transformative and liberal possibilities of the Internet in the developed Western world, a vastly different Internet has begun to emerge during the last decade inside authoritarian societies. I argue this provides yet another major turning point in our understanding and conceptualization of the Internet. No longer must the Internet be seen as a media with a specific set of inherently democratic values, but instead as a broader socially constructed global technology strongly dependent on individual state’s ideological sovereignty. By taking a survey of the methods of control and the evolution of Internet governance, it appears that instead of moving towards democracy as many Westerners have predicted, the space is becoming more authoritarian in many parts of the world.
In case studies taken from Iran, China, and Russia I’ll demonstrate that the implementation of a sophisticated and diverse set of IT controls can provide us with a model of how authoritarian power is structured and constructed online. The analysis uses a social construction of technology framework to uphold three theoretical assumptions about the ontology of the Internet in authoritarian countries. First, I posit that the Internet does not inherently favor any particular political morality or moral philosophy. Second, I argue the contemporary authoritarian state has the technology, resources, and institutional support to remain the primary motivating actor in a new media environment. Finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, I prove that the Internet is being used in authoritarian society as an effective tool of coercion and dominance that serves to reinforce and legitimize the state’s ideological goals. Ultimately, I believe the development of Internet Technology in the authoritarian world provides a new working ontological model for understanding how a variegated technology can function and evolve alternatively around the world and how acting on this knowledge might shape the future of the global Internet.