International high-level dialogue forum

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COVID-19 and digital authoritarianism: Identifying risks and countermeasures

Ahmed Maati
December 2022, 28 pages


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The advances in digital technologies have positive effects on various aspects of life but can also pose a threat to privacy and freedom and can foster repression and authoritarian tendencies. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the danger of a “digital authoritarianism”, not only in already authoritarian regimes but also in established democracies.

Ahmed Maati, the author of our GLOBAL TRENDS.ANALYSIS 02|2022, highlights three characteristics of digital technologies that render them susceptible to authoritarianism: the far-reaching capabilities of these technologies, their entrenchment in a reinforcing ecosystem, and the general lack of literacy regarding digital technologies. He emphasizes that this development grants democracies an opportunity to raise awareness of digital technologies’ dangerous capabilities and their authoritarian-friendly ecosystem.

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