Emerging Issues in Internet Regulation: The Unstable Role of Wikileaks and Cyber-Vigilantism

RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE, Ian Brown, ed., Edward Elgar, 2012

OII/ICS Symposium, 'A Decade in Internet Time', September 24, 2011

13 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2011 Last revised: 3 Jan 2013

Alison Powell

London School of Economics & Political Science; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: September 23, 2011

Abstract

This paper outlines the emerging issues in internet regulation introduced by distributed organizations and cyber-vigilantism: notably, the contributions of WikiLeaks and Anonymous to the problematics of internet governance through an uneven disruption of the power held by existing institutions including the state, but also the mass media. Drawing on Christopher Kelty's (2004) observation that persuasive arguments can be made both through language and by technology, it examines how existing definitions of governance, which are often focused on rule-making, engage with this broader set of 'arguments-by-technology' and what the consequences of these new arguments might be. It concludes that WikiLeaks as an exploit of the features of cyberlocker technology and Anonymous' cyber-vigilantism destabilize the historical arguments linking features of internet technology with political features and introduce more nuanced possibilities, including the ability of activist organizations to discredit state-level actors and to influence the process of media production.

Keywords: internet governance, digital activism, WikiLeaks, Anonymous, media power, new media power

Suggested Citation

Powell, Alison, Emerging Issues in Internet Regulation: The Unstable Role of Wikileaks and Cyber-Vigilantism (September 23, 2011). RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE, Ian Brown, ed., Edward Elgar, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1932740

Alison Powell (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )

London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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