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Digital Middle EastState and Society in the Information Age$
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Mohamed Zayani

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190859329

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190859329.001.0001

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Digital Rights Activism after the Arab Spring

Digital Rights Activism after the Arab Spring

Internet Governance Politics and the Internet Freedom Proto-Regime

Chapter:
(p.197) 9 Digital Rights Activism after the Arab Spring
Source:
Digital Middle East
Author(s):

Muzammil M. Hussain

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190859329.003.0009

This chapter examines the efforts of advanced-industrialized Western democratic states to promote internet freedom through the backing of several international policy summits and associated funding efforts for promoting freedom of expression, for global internet users, especially in closed repressive political systems. However, the recent leaking of key classified documents identifying unlawful global surveillance practices by both authoritarian and democratic states, has further galvanized global attention towards the credibility and meaning of “internet freedom promotion.” In order to better understand what the promotion of Internet freedom entails and to unpack the complex international political economy of this global arena of policy entrepreneurship, this chapter critically examines the key stakeholders that have define and consolidate the norms and frameworks surrounding the shared global digital commons that have been used by protest movements and democracy promoters during all of the recent waves of transnational political mobilizations, including the Green Revolution, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street. The chapter argue that future investigations should discard reductive frames of analysis like ‘cyber-optimism” and “cyber-dystopianism,” and instead pay more critical attention on the key tech-savvy “communities of practice” that have emerged with a pragmatic focus on overseeing and infusing democratic norms into esoteric telecommunications policy.

Keywords:   Internet governance, Communities of practice, Internet freedom promotion, Digital rights activism, Middle East

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