Persily, “The Internet’s Challenge to Democracy: Framing the Problem and Assessing Reforms”

Nate Persily has written this report for the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age. From the executive summary:

In the span of just two years, the widely shared utopian vision of the internet’s impact on governance has turned decidedly pessimistic. The original promise of digital technologies was unapologetically democratic: empowering the voiceless, breaking down borders to build cross-national communities, and eliminating elite referees who restricted political discourse. That promise has been replaced by concern that the most democratic features of the internet are, in fact, endangering democracy itself. Democracies pay a price for internet freedom, under this view, in the form of disinformation, hate speech, incitement, and foreign interference in elections. They also become captive to the economic power of certain platforms, with all the accompanying challenges to privacy and speech regulation that these new, powerful information monopolies have posed.

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