EVALUATING THE EFFICACY OF ONLINE ACTIVISM IN RELATION TO THE ISSUES OF PRICACY AND TRANSPARENCY, NETWORK NEUTRALITY, AND COPYRIGHTS

Open Access
Author:
Clark, Jesse Andrew
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
April 27, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Matthew Paul Mcallister, Dissertation Advisor
  • Matthew Paul Mcallister, Committee Chair
  • James Ford Risley, Committee Member
  • Matthew Jackson, Committee Member
  • Robert Milner Frieden, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • Activism
  • Internet
  • Political Economy
  • Privacy
  • Transparancy
  • Network Neutrality
  • Copyrights
Abstract:
ABSTRACT The Internet has become central to global communications and media. The laws and norms that govern the Internet have significant impact on the ability of the medium to support a just and democratic society. However, if such laws and norms are not in the public interest, but rather serve the interests of those already in positions of privilege and power, this is likely to significantly undermine the ability of the Internet to support democratic society and could transform the medium into a tool of oppression. This dissertation focuses on how various forms of activism attempt to shape laws and norms specifically relating to privacy and transparency, network neutrality, and copyrights in an online environment. Early chapters provide an overview of the importance of these issues for a democratic online environment, and also argue that these issues are closely interconnected. The dissertation then explores how a broad range of actions which could be classified as “activism” attempt to shape, or have shaped, these issues. Through this exploration, the dissertation argues that activism is essential for maintaining an Internet capable of supporting democratic interests, but at the same time there are also powerful forces shaping these issues in ways not compatible with public and democratic interests. It remains to be seen how the issues of privacy and transparency, network neutrality, and copyrights will continue to develop and whether activists will ultimately persevere in developing and maintaining a democratic information technology environment.