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Disruptive Technology: Effects of Technology Regulation on Democracy

Doctoral thesis
Authors Mathias Klang
Date of public defense 2006-10-02
Opponent at public defense Jonny Holmström
ISBN 91-628-6937-X
Publisher Göteborg University
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords technology regulation, disruptive technology, participatory
Subject categories Other information technology


This work develops the thesis that there is a strong relationship between the regulation of disruptive technology and the Internet-based participatory democracy. In other words, attempts to regulate disruptive technology have an impact upon the citizen’s participation in democracy. This work will show what this relationship is and its effects on democratic participation. Taking its starting point from the recent theoretical developments in regulation, disruptive technology and role of ICT in participatory democracy, this work is the application of theoretical discussions on the field of the Internet-based participatory democracy. These theoretical discussions are used in the empirical exploration of six areas: virus writing and dissemination, civil disobedience in online environments, privacy and the role of spyware, the re-interpretation of property in online environments, software as infrastructure and finally state censorship of online information. The purpose of these studies is to explore the effects of these social and technical innovations upon the core democratic values of Participation, Communication, Integrity, Property, Access and Autonomy. The overall research question for this thesis is therefore: How do attempts to regulate disruptive technology affect Internet-based participatory democracy? The specific contribution of this thesis is the development of extended understanding of the way in which we regulate disruptive technology. This understanding helps us to better regulate that which is new and threatens that which is established. Additionally, the extended understanding in this field can then be applied to all domains where regulation of technology may occur. This thesis contributes towards a richer understanding in the research areas of edemocracy, technology regulation and disruptive technology.

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