The internet was first conceived as a tool to promote free expression, to foster and enliven debate, and to strengthen democratic ideals. But it didn’t quite work out that way. In this episode, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp talks with Steven Feldstein, author of The Rise of Digital Repression, about how governing regimes use digital technology to repress their citizens; the threats posed by surveillance, disinformation, and censorship; and how democracies can backslide into authoritarianism.
Host: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), Senior Correspondent, Vox
Guest: Steven Feldstein (@SteveJFeldstein), Author; senior fellow, Carnegie Endowment
The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance by Steven Feldstein (Oxford University Press; 2021)
“Maria Ressa: Philippine journalist found guilty of cyber libel” (June 15, 2020; BBC)
“[Senator Leila] De Lima’s four-year struggle in prison” by Vince Ferreras (Mar 16; CNN Philippines)
“Sandvine Technology Used to Censor the Web in More Than a Dozen Nations” by Ryan Gallagher (Oct. 8, 2020; Bloomberg)
“Social media is rotting democracy from within” by Zack Beauchamp (Jan. 22, 2019; Vox)
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This episode was made by:
Producer: Erikk Geannikis
Editor: Amy Drozdowska
Engineer: Paul Robert Mounsey
VP, Vox Audio: Liz Kelly Nelson
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