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Repression Technology: Internet Accessibility and Strategic State Violence

Bombed out vehicles in Aleppo during the Syrian civil war, October 6, 2012.
VOA

PAST EVENT

Repression Technology: Internet Accessibility and Strategic State Violence

Brown Bag Lunch
Series: International Security Brown Bag Seminar
Open to the Public - Belfer Center Library, Littauer-369
January 21, 2016
12:15-2:00 p.m.

Speaker: Anita Gohdes, Empirical Studies of Gender and Political Violence Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program/Women and Public Policy Program

Related Project: International Security

Description:

The rise of social media as a means of communication has been celebrated as a new way for citizens to voice dissatisfaction with their government and to coordinate dissent. But governments remain in de facto control over Internet accessibility, which means that new digital technology also provides abusive rulers with new repressive tools.

In this seminar, the speaker argues that states' Internet control policies go hand in hand with their use of repressive strategies. Where governments allow their citizens to access the Internet, surveillance of digital information exchange can provide intelligence which should enable the use of more targeted forms of repression. Censoring Internet accessibility can impede collective organization against the government, but it severely limits access to information on precise targets, which should in turn lead to a heightened use of untargeted repression. The speaker will present new data on government killings in the ongoing Syrian conflict that distinguish between targeted and untargeted events using supervised text classification. Higher levels of Internet accessibility are consistently linked to an increase in targeted repression, whereas areas with little or no access witness more indiscriminate campaigns of violence. The results offer important implications for scholars and policymakers' understanding of how governments incorporate the selective access to communication technology into strategies of coercion.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Contact:

ISP Program Coordinator
International Security Program 79 John F. Kennedy St., Mailbox 53 Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Harvard Kennedy School
Email: susan_lynch@hks.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-1981
Fax: 617-495-8963
Url: http://www.belfercenter.org/ISP/