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[liberationtech] The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global Edition - Boing Boing

Yosem Companys companys at
Wed Aug 22 23:16:13 PDT 2012

The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global

By Cory Doctorow <> at 8:57 pm
Wednesday, Aug 22

The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global
Edition<> is
a wry little 45-page booklet that is, superfically, a book of practical
advice for totalitarian, autocratic and theocratic dictators who are
looking for advice on how to shape their countries' Internet policy to
ensure that the network doesn't loosen their grip on power.

Really, though, this is Laurier Rochon's very good critique of the state of
Internet liberation technologies -- a critical analysis of what works, what
needs work, and what doesn't work in the world of networked technologies
that hope to serve as a force for democratization and self-determination.

It's also a literal playbook for using technology, policy, economics and
propaganda to diffuse political dissent, neutralize opposition movements,
and distract and de-politicize national populations. Rochon's device is an
admirably compact and efficient means of setting out the similarities (and
dissimilarities) in the Internet control programs used by Singapore, Iran,
China, Azerbaijan, and other non-democratic states -- and the programs set
in place by America and other "democratic" states in the name of fighting
Wikileaks and piracy. Building on the work of such fierce and smart critics
as Rebecca McKinnon (see my review of her book *Consent of the
), *The Dictator's Guide* is a short, sharp look at the present and future
of networked liberation.

Firstly, the country you rule must be somewhat "stable" politically.
Understandably "stable" can be defined differently in different contexts.
It is essential that the last few years (at least) have not seen too many
demonstrations, protests questioning your legitimacy, unrest, political
dissidence, etc. If it is the case, trying to exploit the internet to your
advantage can quickly backfire, especially if you can't fully trust your
fellow party officials (this is linked to condition #3). Many examples of
relatively stable single-leader states exist if in need of inspiration,
Fidel Castro's Cuba for example. Castro successfully reigned over the
country for decades, effectively protecting his people from
counter-revolutionary individuals. He appointed his brother as the
commander in chief of Cuba's army and managed his regime using elaborate
surveillance and strict dissuasive mechanisms against enemies of the
state.[49] As is always the case, political incidents will occur and test
your regime's resilience (the Bay of Pigs invasion or the missile crisis,
for example), but even massive states have managed to uphold a single-party
model and have adapted beautifully to the digital age - in China's case,
despite close to 87 000 protests in 2005.[2] Follow these states' example
and seek stability, no matter what your regime type is. Without it, you are
jeopardizing the two next prerequisites and annihilating your chances to
rule with the internet at your side. If you are in the midst of an
important political transformation, busy chasing counter-revolutionary
dissidents or sending your military to the streets in order to educate
protesters, you will need to tame these fires first and come back to this
guide afterwards.

The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global
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