The Political Economy of Digital Speech Control across Regimes: different borders for a “bordered Internet”

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Any substantial innovation of information technologies has potential to threat or further entrench the status quo. Since the Internet spread globally, regimes’ elites had to face the challenge of controlling the distribution of unwanted information on it. They have been doing it for different ends, using different techniques and long-term strategies. Rafael’s research aims at explaining the variation among techniques and strategies used by regime’s in controlling speech. It argues that regimes’ institutional conditions (e.g., the character of digital infrastructure ownership market, judicial independence, regime-type and supporting business coalitions) and path-dependencies of their early adopted strategies shift the present costs, benefits and risks of different speech control techniques, making regimes prefer certain strategies over others. These variations alter the configuration of the Internet, the kind of information and services available from one place and time to another. It affects future opportunities for innovation and political change. Rafael’s research attempts to offer a typology of digital speech control strategies, their perceived advantages and disadvantages, and an underlying theory of the conditions under which governments and powerful private actors are likely to adopt one strategy over the other. It addresses these issues mainly through a comparative case study of five selected countries: Germany, Brazil, Turkey, Singapore and China (Hong Kong).

Contact: Rafael Nunes