Anonymity Networks: New Platforms for Conflict and Contention

32 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2013 Last revised: 18 Apr 2013

See all articles by Mina Rady

Mina Rady

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 29, 2013

Abstract

Access to information is critical during population uprisings against repressive regimes. As a venue for information and data exchange, cyberspace offers many powerful social platforms for exchange of information. But the infrastructure of the Internet allows government to block or censor such platforms. In turn, anonymity networks emerged as conventional mechanisms for Internet users to circumvent government censorship. In this paper we show that anonymity networks became “terrains” for government-population conflict as they enable citizens to overpower governments’ conventional control mechanisms over cyber-information exchanges. We delineate escalations of this cyber-conflict by studying two notable cases: Egypt, a simple case, and Iran, a more complex case. We take Tor network as the anonymity network that is subject of investigation. We highlight the range of actions that each actor can take to retaliate via anonymity networks. We conclude that design specifications and protocols of anonymous communication determine the strategies of escalation. Finally, we lay out the foundation for monitoring and analyzing dynamics and control point analysis of anonymous networks.

Keywords: Anonymity Networks, Political Conflict, Cyberspace, Censorship, Internet

JEL Classification: D74, D80, D84, D89, L89

Suggested Citation

Rady, Mina, Anonymity Networks: New Platforms for Conflict and Contention (March 29, 2013). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2013-5, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2241536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2241536

Mina Rady (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ecir.mit.edu

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