Can Free Assembly Survive the Internet?

This review essay from Public Books discusses how digital surveillance affects the political practice of assembly and protest. By analyzing Laura DeNardis’s The Internet in Everything: Freedom and Security in a World with No Off Switch, Sasha Costanza-Chock’s Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need, and Shalini Kantayya’s documentary Coded Bias, this article explores the ways in which the fact of digitization is shaping democracy itself. Even as the internet builds coalitions of solidarity and social justice, it becomes the location to surveil each protest and protestor. Exploring such contradictions, this articles raises questions on how such modes surveillance affects democratic ideals like free speech, free assembly, and other civil liberties. Duly highlighting both the oppressive potentialities of digital technologies as well as its capacity for resistance, this article is a very helpful introduction to current conversations on the impact of the internet and the digital more broadly on society today.

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