Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Sean A. Pager and Adam Candeub
Chapter 5: Balkanizing the Internet
Kevin W. Saunders 5.1 INTRODUCTION “Bits Without Borders,” the title of the conference on which this volume is based, sounds as though it would have to be a good thing, perhaps totally good with no downside. After all, in a borderless Internet, information is available everywhere. Even in a country such as the United States, where the transmission of information is largely unrestricted, understanding of the news can be broadened through the Internet. Reading news from nonUnited States sources can provide a different slant. Additionally, topics not covered by sources in the United States may draw extensive coverage in countries that, for example, have a colonial era tie to a particular part of the world. There is also a benefit from the borderless Internet in the difficulties it raises for totalitarian regimes.1 People in countries that are less than free and in which more traditional sources of news have been restricted may enjoy access to Internet-based news from the outside world. Events within the country, such as political protest, that might not have been seen on the state-controlled media and the occurrence of which might have been denied by the government, may become widely known from cellphone videos uploaded to the Internet. Disaffected citizens realize that they are not alone in their feelings toward the government, and their willingness to engage in pro-democracy protest may increase. While all this is clearly good, there is also a downside to an Internet lacking borders. It is not only the totalitarian regime that...
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