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Internet crackdown is blow for activism in Middle East

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Significance

Prior to the 2011 Arab uprisings many states in the region lacked legal frameworks to regulate or control digital platforms and online media, but this is no longer the case. In the wake of the Arab uprisings, Middle Eastern states have cracked down fiercely on online journalism and cyber activism through the introduction of new laws or updating of existing ones, often making them even more restrictive than they were before, and enabling them to crack down on dissent and reform more effectively.

Impacts

  • Authoritarian regimes will solidify their hold on power at the expense of political reform.
  • Restrictions on online dissent will reduce governments' legitimacy in the long run.
  • Limits on freedom of expression will slow the region's drive to improve educational standards and build 'knowledge economies'.
  • Western governments will avoid strong criticism of regional allies' crackdown on the online space.
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