Decoding Digital AuthoritarianismDownload the pdf
Digital technologies hold tremendous potential to enhance societal wellbeing, including the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights. However, citizens, political leaders, and states are increasingly concerned about the way in which digital technologies can be used to curtail freedoms and oppress foreign and domestic population groups in liberal democratic and autocratic states alike. Digital authoritarianism has emerged as a policy-relevant description of this concern, but suffers from a lack of i) conceptual clarity, ii) relevant stakeholder consensus on areas of focus, and iii) strategic policy guidance for effective response.
Taking the traditional understanding of digital authoritarianism as a point of departure, this report tasked 9 experts from a variety of regional focus areas and academic disciplines – inter alia comparative and international law, political economy, data studies, and media & communications – with offering their views on what digital authoritarianism means, what
empirical factors drive it, and how we can develop theory around it that allows for a more global, inclusive conversation to address the various ways it might manifest in societies. This approach was specifically designed to include novel angles into and/or underrepresented voices
in conversations about digital technology and policy, and so these contributions range from the Global South implications of AI ‘epistemic authoritarianism’, to the urgent (un)democratic potential of central bank digital currencies in global finance.