Cornell Law Review Volume 97 Issue 6

Jasmine Revolutions

Will the Internet help topple tyrants, or will it further cement their control? Prominent skeptics challenge the notion that the Internet will help rid the world of dictators and, worse yet, hold that it may even assist autocrats in manipulating popular opinion. I defend the liberalizing promise of cyberspace. Where others discredit the value of the Internet to dissidents, I respond to the main critiques of that position—that Internet activism is futile, that the Internet is simply the new opiate of the masses, and that autocrats will benefit more from the Internet than dissidents. I argue that dictators have revealed their own appraisals of the Internet: when threatened, they shut it down. Tyrants today fear the Internet more than they benefit from it. Last summer’s events again confirmed this truth: on the day when the rebels marched into Tripoli, they restored Libya’s connection to the Internet.


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