Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Science. 2016 Sep 9;353(6304):1151-5. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf5062.

Digital discrimination: Political bias in Internet service provision across ethnic groups.

Author information

1
Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.
2
Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, 78457 Konstanz, Germany. Department of Political Science, University of Santiago de Compostela, Campus Vida, 15705 Compostela, Spain.
3
International Conflict Research, ETH Zurich, Haldeneggsteig 4, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.
4
Computer Engineering and Networks Laboratory, ETH Zurich, Gloriastraße 35, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.
5
Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Nikolaou Plastira 100, 71110 Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Department of Computer Science, University of Crete, Voutes Campus, 70013 Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

Abstract

The global expansion of the Internet is frequently associated with increased government transparency, political rights, and democracy. However, this assumption depends on marginalized groups getting access in the first place. Here we document a strong and persistent political bias in the allocation of Internet coverage across ethnic groups worldwide. Using estimates of Internet penetration obtained through network measurements, we show that politically excluded groups suffer from significantly lower Internet penetration rates compared with those in power, an effect that cannot be explained by economic or geographic factors. Our findings underline one of the central impediments to "liberation technology," which is that governments still play a key role in the allocation of the Internet and can, intentionally or not, sabotage its liberating effects.

PMID:
27609892
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaf5062
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center