‘The unlimited and worldwide promotion of Internet freedom is naive and hypocritical.’ According to Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion, Western governments and NGOs in particular allow themselves to be blinded by the belief that the Internet automatically spawns revolutions. ‘They do not realise that authoritarian regimes use that same Internet to track down dissidents and stifle critical voices. As long as the West continues to export censorship software to repressive countries, this Western ‘cyber-utopianism’ lacks credibility,’ states Morozov in his numerous lectures around the world.
On 22 June, Evgeny Morozov will be visiting Amsterdam to fill us in on this dark side of the much-lauded phenomenon of the Internet. In Amsterdam, he will be participating in a debate with Geert Lovink, Internet activist and Professor of New Media at the University of Amsterdam. In addition, Morozov will enter into dialogue with Niels of Free Press Unlimited, Ot van Daalen of Bits of Freedom, Ivan Sigal of Global Voices Online (to be confirmed) and ofcourse with the audience. The moderator of the evening is the Dutch journalist Frenk van der Linden.
The Net Delusion
The blogger, Internet scientist and publicist Morozov is the author of The Net Delusion, the Dark Side of Internet Freedom. In this much-praised book, Morozov lashes out at ‘cyber-utopians’ who see the internet as a panacea for spreading democracy and opening up isolated regimes. According to Morozov, the Internet is not only used by dissidents of a democratic persuasion, but also by dictators and security services. In Morozov’s view, in recent years, the Internet has even made their job easier. For example, during the 2009 protests in Iran, the regime used Facebook to identify dissidents and their networks, and YouTube and Twitter to track their activities.
Morozov’s publications have inspired strong reactions and heated debates around the world. Morozov warns that the West’s current enthusiasm for Internet freedom is mainly based on wishful thinking. In addition, he casts doubt on the ‘social media revolutions’ in North Africa and the Middle East. Morozov’s critics, on the other hand, claim that precisely the latter revolutions show that the role of the internet in democratisation processes should not be underestimated. They are furthermore of the opinion that the Western initiatives in the area of Internet freedom are not as naive as Morozov would let us believe.
22 June 2011:
Free Press Unlimited presents Evgeny Morozov
Doors open: 7.30 p.m.
Debate starts: 8 p.m.
Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam
Piet Heinkade 179
1019 HC Amsterdam
Tickets: EUR 5 at the door
Register via email@example.com
The proceeds will be used to fund media projects by Free Press Unlimited