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World Telecommunications Markets

The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume III

Edited by Gary Madden

This major reference work provides a thorough and up-to-date survey and analysis of recent developments in the economics of telecommunications. The Handbook serves both as a source of reference and technical supplement for the field of telecommunications economics.
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Chapter 16: Regulation of Internet services in North Africa

Andrea L. Kavanaugh


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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