In the context of authoritarian states the internet has always been viewed as an unambiguous force for good. It has, indeed, had a wide-reaching impact on many such regimes, allowing their citizens to mobilise around particular political and social issues and gain access to previously banned materials.
However, many authoritarian governments are now also beginning to exploit cyberspace for their own purposes; some of them appear to be succeeding in subverting the internet's democratising potential. We may have overestimated the internet's ability to bring change and underestimated the role that political, social and cultural forces play in determining how new technologies are being adopted.
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