Blocking the Bottleneck: Internet Shutdowns and Ownership at Election Times in Sub-Saharan Africa

Item Type Journal paper

The Internet is often portrayed as offering new communication and information channels resistant to state control because of its decentralization. At the same time, the Internet relies on a hierarchical physical infrastructure that, connecting the individual customer to the Internet, provides states with control opportunities. We argue that ownership of the Internet infrastructure, in particular Internet service providers (ISPs), is critical to understanding state Internet control because most direct forms of control require ISPs to comply with government requests. Using qualitative comparative analysis, we systematically link documented Internet shutdowns in sub-Sahara African countries to configurations of ISP state majority ownership, regime type, and election violence. The results support a positive relationship between a temporary halt of Internet provision and ISP majority ownership by authoritarian states when facing election-related violence. Our study underlines the importance of varying ownership structures in explaining political effects of Internet penetration, including its role in challenging authoritarian rule.

Authors Freyburg, Tina & Garbe, Lisa
Journal or Publication Title International Journal of Communication
Language English
Subjects political science
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area SEPS - Global Democratic Governance
Refereed Yes
Date 2018
Publisher The Annenberg Center for Communication
Place of Publication Los Angeles, California
Volume 12
Page Range 3896-3916
ISSN 1932-8036
Publisher DOI 1932–8036/20180005
Official URL
Depositing User Prof. Ph.D Tina Freyburg
Date Deposited 12 Oct 2018 21:46
Last Modified 12 Oct 2018 21:56


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Freyburg, Tina & Garbe, Lisa (2018) Blocking the Bottleneck: Internet Shutdowns and Ownership at Election Times in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Communication, 12 3896-3916. ISSN 1932-8036

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