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Factors of the Internet Filtering and Shut-Downs in Autocracies

Student: Alisa Shuginova

Supervisor: Irina Busygina

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Political Science and World Politics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2020

The paper analyses possible factors that influenced filtering and shutting down the Internet by authoritarian leaders in 2000-2019. Seven hypotheses for both filtering and shutting down the Internet are formulated in the theoretical part (based on literature review and such theories as the dictator’s dilemma, rational choice theory and external shocks). The analysis of the data allowed to find out that filtering of the Internet increases in countries with weak opposition, constant violations of rights and freedoms, higher Internet penetration and with more authoritarian institutions (for some models). It also increases in one-party regimes and in countries where Islamic, Orthodox or Buddhist faith is prevalent. It decreases in monarchies and multi-party regimes and also for some models in military regimes. The Internet is more often shut down in countries with high protest activity, lesser consequences for the economy from shutting it down, and also when the authorities use it to disseminate false information. It is shut down less often in countries with higher level of globalisation and when the possible terrorist attack may destabilise authorities or overthrow them. Main findings and further research proposal are described in the conclusion.

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