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99 Foreign Aff. 103 (2020)
The Digital Dictators: How Technology Strengthens Autocracy

handle is hein.journals/fora99 and id is 313 raw text is: 

The Digital Dictators

How Technology Strengthens Autocracy

Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Erica Frantz, and

Joseph Wright

    The Stasi,   East  Germany's state security service, may have

        been one  of the most pervasive secret police agencies that
        ever existed. It was infamous for its capacity to monitor indi-
 viduals and control information flows. By 1989, it had almost 100,000
 regular employees and, according to some accounts, between 500,000
 and two million informants in a country with a population of about 16
 million. Its sheer manpower and resources allowed it to permeate so-
 ciety and keep tabs on virtually every aspect of the lives of East Ger-
 man citizens. Thousands of agents worked to tap telephones, infiltrate
 underground political movements, and report on personal and famil-
 ial relationships. Officers were even positioned at post offices to open
 letters and packages entering from or heading to noncommunist
 countries. For decades, the Stasi was a model for how a highly capable
 authoritarian regime could use repression to maintain control.
   In the wake of the apparent triumph of liberal democracy after the
 Cold War, police states of this kind no longer seemed viable. Global
 norms about what constituted a legitimate regime had shifted. At the
 turn of the millennium, new technologies, including the Internet and
 the cell phone, promised to empower citizens, allowing individuals
 greater access to information and the possibility to make new connec-
 tions and build new communities.
   But this wishful vision of a more democratic future proved naive.
 Instead, new technologies now afford rulers fresh methods for pre-
 serving power that in many ways rival, if not improve on, the Stasi's

 ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security
 Program at the Center for a New American Security.
 ERICA FRANTZ is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.
 JOSEPH WRIGHT is Professor of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University.

March/April 2020  103

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