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SPP 503

Author: Jaclyn Kerr
Description: Why has growing Internet penetration coincided with the development of increasingly powerful political protest movements in some authoritarian regimes but not in others? This paper argues that the policies that regimes adopt to control the Internet have significant influence on the dynamics of protests. It first examines different policy approaches that non-democratic regimes have adopted for the regulation of the Internet, demonstrating that there is significant variation in restrictions on Internet use even across otherwise similar regime types with similar Internet penetration rates. It then investigates the influence of more and less restrictive Internet policies on protest dynamics. Considering the mechanisms by which growing Internet penetration can influence protest movements, the paper presents a preliminary model of which causal impacts are most likely in which settings. It uses this model to explain recent protest dynamics within the successor states of the former Soviet Union.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland