#Cyberprotest and Internet Disruption: Critical Geographies of Digital Dissent and Suppression

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Africa Specialty Group, Digital Geographies Specialty Group, Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Amber Murrey, Patricia Daley
Chairs: Patricia Daley

Call for Submissions

This panel will consider tactics to suppress the Internet—from large-scale network shutdowns, to targeted website blocking and throttling, to online surveillance of activists and activists’ families, to international networks of international information sharing, to the arrest and prosecution of activists as “cyber-terrorists.” We are also interested in papers that consider current transitions and shifts in online activism more broadly.

We welcome papers that explore the following themes, and more:
· Responses to, circumventing of and/or resistances against forms of digital policing and disruption
· Everyday experiences and encounters with Internet disruption, blackouts, regulation, and surveillance
· State targeting of Internet infrastructure as “tactical point” during or preemptive to protests, conflict, struggle, elections, and more
· Relationships between the targeting of Internet infrastructure amid other forms of infrastructural violence
· Normalization of State restrictions on online content and/or rise of social media user fees and taxes
· Censorship, content restriction, and throttling
· #BlackTwitter, anti-racism, and transnational shared articulations of grievances via the circulation of episodes and patterns of violence on social media (#FreeBobiWine, #FreeTheArrested, #BringBackOurGirls, and more)
· #BringBackOurNet, #KeepItOn, and other movements for digital rights
· Prosecution and imprisonment of activists as “cyberterrorists”
· Spread/travel of repressive techniques and surveillance technologies across borders and regions
· State and corporate financial investment in forms of digital policing and/or digital colonialism


State-led blackouts have been linked to increased rates of political and direct violence in Syria (Ghodes 2015). Sustained shutdowns, such as those in recent years in Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Mali, have been characterized as forms of “digital siege, wearing down public dissent under the guise of pacifying volatile situations” (Rydzak 2018, 13). Cambridge Analytica Ltd. representatives have disclosed that their surveillance technologies were first tested in countries of the global South. New policies have been proposed that would require the registration and regulation of online and social media content in Tanzania, Benin, and elsewhere, where “fees to operate” risk depressing usage through prohibitive costs. The Egyptian government recently passed an amendment to the media and press law No. 92 that deems social media users and blogs with more than 5,000 followers to be media or press outlets and, therefore, subject to the country’s laws and restrictions on journalists.

These cases raise important questions about the relationship between Internet suppressions and other forms of political and social control.

· How does “policing the net” compound, intensify, interlink and/or replace other forms of domination and policing?

· How are disruptions perceived and resisted in particular regions and communities?

· How does the monitoring and regulation of social media impact upon protest, activism, and solidarities?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Patricia Daley*, University of Oxford, Cyberspaces of resistance: The limitations of global solidarity networks 20 1:10 PM
Presenter Lisa-Marie Garbe*, , Internet shutdowns at election times. The case of Uganda 20 1:30 PM
Presenter Daniel Webster*, , Interventions in Online Adspace: Occupations, Algorithms, Orifices. 20 1:50 PM
Presenter Amber Murrey*, University of Oxford, Internet Stoppage, Blackouts and Activist ‘Cybercriminals’: Structural & Infrastructural Violence in the #Ambazonian and #Oromo Uprisings 20 2:10 PM

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