Morozov’s discussion of contemporary censorship makes the claim that dictators today are innovative with regard to how they control access to information. These includes efforts to institutionalize blogging, “crowdsource” censorship, and adopt increasingly sophisticated filtering and monitoring software.
From GreenDam in China to tracking the links that your Facebook friends or Twitter followers share (and thus making you susceptible to guilt by association), it’s clearly not true that authoritarianism has found a mortal enemy in technology.
Questions for discussion:
1) Morozov spends a significant amount of time discussing Distributed-Denial-of-Service attacks, which he strongly suggests may at times have state sponsorship. He writes, “The worst part about DDoS-type restrictions on freedom of expression is that they lead to significant undercounting of the total amount of Internet censorship around the world.” Do you agree that this should be included in discussions of state-sponsored censorship? Are there other types of attacks that also perform this function?
2) Morozov claims that the so-called “dictator’s dilemma” theory of technology “encourages a lazy approach to politics.” He also says that technological solutions to censorship alone won’t overcome authoritarianism. What do you think is the right approach for those who want to help create change from the outside, including democratic governments and pro-human rights institutions?
Chapter 1 – The Google Doctrine
Chapter 2 – Texting Like It’s 1989
Chapter 3 – Orwell’s Favorite Lolcat
Chapter 4 – Censors and Sensibilities
Chapter 5 – Hugo Chavez Would Like to Welcome You to the Spinternet
Chapter 6 – Why the KGB Wants You to Join Facebook
Chapter 7 – Why Kierkegaard Hates Slacktivism
Chapter 8 – Open Networks, Narrow Minds
Chapter 9 – Internet Freedoms and Their Consequences
Chapter 10 – Making History (More Than a Browser Menu)
Chapter 11 – The Wicked Fix