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Democracy And The Internet Essay

1559 words - 6 pages

As the times change, so does the latest technology. In the mid-1900's it was the television, before that the radio, and now in the late-20th and 21st century we have the internet. With the coming of every new media outlet audiences and media moguls migrate. Along with the migrations are the politicians who try to use the new form of media to more easily reach the public. It's come to the point where the internet increasingly work with democracy directly; some elections in the United States even going so far as to hold online polling in a general election. "Online voting is increasingly making its way int our political process," writes Vote.com President Dick Morris, "the 2000 Arizona Democratic Primary tallied 39,942 online votes," (Morris 1034). However, should the internet really be used to such degrees in the case of democracy? There is an ongoing debate among scholars on the topic. One thing to consider is whether or not the many accusations stating that the internet is an aid to terrorism outweigh the positive effects of how the internet has strengthened democracy and has had a crucial part in turning oppressed nations into less oppressed, democratic states. On the subject of terrorism being aided by the internet, making it easier for terrorist factions leaders to inform their people, could it not be argued that these factions leaders could use other means of communication, maybe only a little less effectively and therefore nullifying the accusation that the internet is the culprit? After extensive research, it's clear that the internet does not harm democracy; on the contrary, the internet strengthens it in a way that no other form of media has done before.

In their book "Democracy and the Internet: Allies or Adversaries?" author Leslie David Simon and brings to light a compelling point toward the book's thesis. Simon writes about the Taliban, the Afghan political group, who, "In May 2001...officially banned the internet from Afghanistan... Clearly," Simon continues, "they feared all the characteristics of the Net that its proponents had always identified as strong democratizing influences," (Simon 1). Simon also gives the examples of Cuba, Iraq, China and Iran who have all either heavily censored or banned the use of the internet in an attempt to "limit its effects on their populations," (Simon 1). "What better proof could there be that the Net nourishes democracy?" concludes Simon (Simon 1). Logic would imply that because the internet clearly hinders the grasp authoritarianism has on populations, it therefore strengthens democracy.

The internet is, generally speaking, a tool used by people from all different parts of the globe, contributing to the exchange of information and current events. However, this general definition can be applied to good or ill, "the idea of technology empowering citizens for good or for ill is not a new phenomenon, nor is there a lack of precedents of governments dealing with how to react to this...

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