Category Archives: surveillance

Is Democracy Slipping Through the Net?

Evgeny Morozov is 28 years old. And he’s a cyber-sceptic.

Morozov, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, grew up in Belarus. He has written a book, The Net Delusion  to show us “that by falling for the supposedly democratizing nature of the Internet, Western do-gooders may have missed how it also entrenches dictators, threatens dissidents, and makes it harder—not easier—to promote democracy.”  Two chapters are available on the site .

I had no idea, until reading Ed Pilkington’s piece on The Guardian, Evgeny Morozov: How democracy slipped through the net, that the US state department, in 2009, emailed Twitter to delay routine maintenance to allow protester tweets to continue uninterrupted. Morozov sees this action as setting a “dangerous precedent, convincing the Iranian leadership, and many other authoritarian regimes around the world, that the US government was in cahoots with Silicon Valley and that the internet was being turned into an extension of politics by other means.”

Morozov was on the Twitter-revolution-bandwagon until the pro-democracy claims about the internet began appearing as “wildly exaggerated.” Trying to understand how the internet can be used to promote democracy, he says he hasn’t given up on the technology, but believes it needs to be “done differently.”