PODCAST | Why Democracies May Worsen Internet Freedom

  • Time: Wednesday 18 March 2015, 12:30-2:00pm
  • Speaker: Dr Aim Sinpeng, University of Sydney

This is part of the #DemocracyFutures Seminars.

There is a normative assumption that democracies support open Internet. Democracies, by definition, would require a certain level of freedom of expression. Online freedom is assumed as a part of the protected civil liberties many democracies can guarantee, at least on principle. Yet, there has been growing scholarly and empirical evidence that democracies do not assure or even support cyber freedom. Freedom House’s Net Freedom reports, which rank the degree of Internet freedom, have shown an increasing propensity for states that are otherwise classified as “free” to have cut back on cyber liberties. Under what conditions can democracies hamper Internet freedom? This presentation traces the change in the levels of cyber openness in Thailand. It argues that the extent to which democracies can be a force for democratic entrenchment depends on the state coercive capacity online. Where the state cyber coercive capacity is high, we are more likely to see less freedom onlineregardless of regime type. States have incentives to exert control in cyberspace and where digital capacity affords them, they seek out ways to curb online freedom.

Listen to the seminar: