AirTalk for January 6, 2011

Internet freedom feels so right, but can cut like a knife

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By Evgeny Morozov

The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom

Freedom of information fosters liberal democracy, right? Not so fast, argues Evgeny Morozov in his new book "The Net Delusion." Yes, the Internet has proven itself to be a powerful tool for promoting change. Just look back at all those blog posts about Myanmar's 2007 Saffron Revolution and the tweets from Iran during the protests in June 2009. But for all the talk about the liberalizing force of the Internet, these regimes are as stable and repressive as ever. Why? Because, Morozov writes, the Internet doesn’t just give power to the people. It’s also extremely useful to dictators, some of whom are exploiting it to tighten their grips. Consider the photos of protesters posted online by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that led directly to their arrests or the Russian “Movement Against Illegal Immigration,” which used Google to create maps of minorities’ homes, urging people to find and harass them. So what’s a dissident to do? Are we overlooking the advantages the Internet bestows on dictators? How else are authoritarian governments using the Internet to suppress free speech, spy on and pacify their populations?

Guest:

Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (Public Affairs)


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