The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume III
Edited by Gary Madden
Chapter 16: Regulation of Internet services in North Africa
Andrea L. Kavanaugh INTRODUCTION Some researchers argue that new media are inherently subversive and will undermine authoritarianism, even bring an end to dictatorship (Quarterman, 1993; Shenon, 1994). Others argue that new technology makes its easier for government to monitor and control information ﬂows and invade privacy (Gandy, 1996). A careful look at the diﬀusion of new media in North Africa and the Middle East shows that these technologies and services are actually diﬀusing diﬀerently than either of these scenarios. This chapter presents case study evidence of the social control of information technology in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). Evidence provided includes speciﬁc technological controls (centralized gateways, transmission and switching infrastructure), legal controls (licensing of Internet service providers according to press code laws), economic barriers (artiﬁcial pricing schemes, software and conﬁguration fees), and access restrictions (limited residential service). These governments are using a combination of economic barriers, regulatory mechanisms and traditional tactics to maintain control over the diﬀusion of networked computer technology and services. All of the usual mechanisms over traditional media – according to an authoritarian model of the press (Siebert et al., 1956; Boyd, 1980) – are already in place and being applied eﬀectively to the Internet. Evidence is presented from network analysis, legal documentation and interviews, and related ﬁeld research in North Africa between 1990 and 2000. Data and television communication by satellite are discussed in terms of the target audience (elite consumers), and programming content (entertainment, sport and business news)...
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