Mixed Views on Whether Tech Firms Will Give in To Repressive Governments

Posted in: Censorship at 06/07/2012 19:42

A new survey released Thursday provides a mixed view on how far industry experts believe that tech companies will go in assisting authoritarian governments in controlling access to technology. The survey found that while industry experts expressed hope that companies would do the right thing, they expect that many won't.

The survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Elon University polled 1,021 technology experts on a range of questions around how technology firms would respond by 2020 when asked to follow restrictive rules imposed by authoritarian governments. The survey was conducted last fall in the wake of the Arab Spring when activists used such tools as Twitter or Facebook to help spur protests against authoritarian regimes in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.

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Pew Survey: Tech Companies Will Have Mixed Record on Dealing With Repressive Regimes [IDG]
Internet experts are divided over whether technology companies will cooperate in the coming decade with repressive regimes that seek to limit or monitor individual Internet use, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center and Elon University.

Roughly half the Internet experts responding to a 2011 online survey believed that by 2020, technology companies based in democratic countries will be expected to adhere to norms for protecting international users' freedom of expression under potentially repressive regimes.

The Future of Corporate Responsibility
Overview: Corporate responsibility: How far will tech firms go in helping repressive regimes?

Experts are divided about the role Western technology companies will play in helping monitor and thwart dissident activity in the future. Some hope the open Internet and the prospect of consumer backlash will minimize businesses' cooperation with authoritarian governments; others believe the urge for profits and for global reach across all cultures will compel firms to allow their digital tools to be used against critics of the status quo.

About the Survey: The survey results are based on a non-random, opt-in, online sample of 1,021 Internet experts and other Internet users, recruited via email invitation, Twitter or Facebook from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University. Since the data are based on a non-random sample, a margin of error cannot be computed, and the results are not projectable to any population other than the experts in this sample.

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