Research event

Defining borders online: What shapes national concepts of internet sovereignty (on the example of Russia)?

A presentation by Anna Litvinenko (Freie Universität Berlin). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance and the Data Science Lab.

Over the recent decades, the Internet governance has been developing in the dialectical tug-of-war between the democratic and global nature of the network and the attempts of national governments to put the Internet under control. This struggle was reflected in the academic literature as the liberation vs. control debate (Deibert and Rohoginsky, 2010). Recently, the idea of Internet sovereignty has started to gain increasingly more supporters among national governments. Previous academic literature has explored cases of Internet isolation mostly on the example of China and Iran. This paper is a case study of the Russian concept of the ‘sovereign Internet’. The so-called bill on sustainable Internet marked in 2019 a new milestone in the development of the RuNet. Drawing on document analysis, I reconstruct the history of formation of the Russian Internet sovereignty model and explore the major factors that shaped this model: (1) international relations; (2) economical; (3) political; (4) historical trajectory. The paper puts the Russian case into the global context, contributing to a better understanding of the global Internet governance as well as to the literature on diffusion of authoritarian norms. 

Anna Litvinenko is a researcher in the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group “Mediating (Semi-)Authoritarianism: The Power of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Region” at the Freie Universität Berlin. After receiving her PhD in 2007, she worked as an associate professor at the Department of International Journalism of Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. Her research focusses on the interrelation of media and politics in the digital age, and on the role of social media in various socio-political contexts.

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