Internet Control for Dummies, sorry, Dictators

As regular visitors will know, this blog is not averse to the occasional spoof, often cunningly concealed in the Category Cloud “What passes for humour”. I am delighted, therefore, to draw readers’ attention to The Dictator’s Practical Internet Guide to Power Retention, which is spoofless satire at its best.

The Introduction sets out goal of the Guide, which is to provide leaders of authoritarian, autocratic, theocratic, totalitarian and other single-leader or single-party regimes with a basic set of guidelines on how to use the Internet to ensure they retain the most power for the longest time.

“The best way to achieve this is to never have your authority contested. This guide will accompany you in the obliteration of political dissidence. By having everyone agree with you, or believe that everyone agrees with you, your stay at the head of state will be long and prosperous.

As non-democratic regimes come in incredibly varied flavours, some of the formulated recommendations will be of greater relevance for some dictators than others, depending on a long list of factors pertaining to the state you rule. Generally, states with higher economical growth rates have easier choices to make.

This guide will attempt to cover as much ground as possible, but aims first and foremost to offer general advice. Authoritarian values are being attacked in all parts of the world, and dictators use merely a fraction of the internet’s capabilities when it comes to controlling their population.

This can be partly attributed to the effectiveness of traditional repressive techniques, the misguided belief that technology has inherent democratic properties or the lack of interest in

developing a strong tech culture. Leaders of non-democratic states need to change their mindsets and better adapt to this new landscape overflowing with opportunities.

As you will see, some of them are not without risks, but the rewards to be reaped are immense and the possibilities, nearly endless. Contrary to popular belief, technological development does not automatically translate into more democratic institutions. Many authoritarian countries which have experienced steady or rapid degrees of ICT diffusion have happily stayed authoritarian, namely Brunei, Eritrea, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia and others.

This guide aims to distil common threads and useful practices in order to emulate the success some of these states have achieved. It covers freedom from political chaos; freedom from decentralized telecommunication infrastructure; freedom from democratically elected officials; suppressing anonymity; suppressing security; running your own services; harnessing private sector innovation; choosing a control strategy; creating a panopticon: best practices; and damage control tactics.”

The Dictator’s Practical Internet Guide to Power Retention (Global Edition, June 2012) by Laurier Rochon. Text available at: http://pwd.io/guide

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