Why dictators (don't) shut down the Internet


16 Responses to “Why dictators (don't) shut down the Internet”

  1. Because businesses in those countries make a heap of money selling stuff to first world countries and they need communications to do that. Money from those businesses helps prop the Government up.

  2. tmcsweeney says:

    There is a 3rd reason (and arguably it should be #1) for shutting down the internet: denying an asset to your enemy. Ad-hoc rebel uprisings tend to not have robust independent communication tools (i.e. military radios) and rely on the public internet to communicate and coordinate. Being cut off hampers the uprisings efforts without seriously impacting the better equipped government troops.

  3. Kl-0 says:

    Warren Ellis’  (?)

  4. Giannis says:

    The problem is that they can’t shut down the internet but they can control it by not letting you write or do anything you want….They always check for keywords or phrases against them or their policy and you can get in a real trouble if they catch you doing something “Stupid” :) 

    • dragonfrog says:

       A reason to keep it on – if you gain more from keeping your activities more or less hidden, and from sometimes catching people as they attempt to evade your censorship.

  5. Xploder says:

    As to your 1. A., I’d suggest that any dictator that knows his ass from a hole in the ground would know that if his citizens didn’t have the internet in the first place, then his economy was not dependent on it. That’s just top of the head, thinking in terms of a few years back and say, central African, Middle Asian type situations.

    Then again, I might be completely out of my gourd, who knows.

  6. “Why not shut down the Internet the instant trouble breaks out?”

    Because there is ALWAYS trouble breaking out. It’s a misconception that places like Cairo or Iraq or Libya (pre-overthrow) are more or less stable and their leaders are generally popular. Instead, it’s a decades long game of whack-a-mole. It’s hard to know when trouble is “real” or whether you can just burn a couple houses out and have everyone go home.

  7. george kyaw naing says:

    Another reason may be they don’t understand the impact of the internet very much. They may underestimate its powers. This will change with the younger generations of dictators.


    • Damian Barajas says:

      Its been my experience that its the end users who don’t understand what the internet is for, and the owners of the infrastructure have a very clear idea of what its for. And vice versa.

  8. NickPheas says:

    Far sighted nut job dictators mitigate both problems by not allowing the internet to start with. North Korea and Myanmar seem to have managed it.

  9. jbond says:

    The whole internet, or just part of it? Just the parts that allow free speech? Or just the parts that affect copyright?

  10. Florian Bösch says:

    Shutting down the internet is a guaranteed way to kneecap your country for decades (if not centuries) to come. It’s the perfect way for any aspiring 2nd or 1st world country to get fastracked to 3rd world country.

  11. Adrian Neill says:

    Shutting off the internet is the best way to get the attention of the people who were previously at home being apathetic to your government and entertained by on-line games and videos. Those people are now bored, angry, and want to know why the internet is off, and their going to come looking for answers. They will probably find them, and quite often join whatever cause you tried to shut off the internet to stop in the first place.

Leave a Reply