//2014 CGCS Visiting Scholar James Losey discusses the role of institutional advocacy in shaping internet policy. James will address this topic during his October 30th talk “How the Internet and Activism Changes Policy.”
From the Black Thursday protest against the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in 1996 to the Internet Slowdown in November 2014, internet activism has a rich history of engaging in internet policy. With regard to internet policy and activism, as Stefania Milan notes in her Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change, the internet is both a tool for activism and a target of contention.
Literature on the subject of the internet as a tool for activism is plentiful. In her book, Milan writes that the “internet is no longer just a tool for activist networking and mobilizing but has become the main platform for action, recruitment, and identification.” According to Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg, the freeloader dilemma requiring centralized organization for the logic of collective action is mitigated through the lower costs of digitally mediated individual action supporting a logic of connective action. By contrast, Evgeny Morozov employs the term “slacktivism” to critique online engagement as a low-cost activity that detracts from meaningful activism. However understanding the internet as a target of contention, which is a core issue of internet policy debates, requires understanding the role of advocacy.
One step toward understanding advocacy’s role is to distinguish between…
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