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All FSI News News December 6, 2021

Stanford’s Program on Democracy and the Internet Launches New Initiative on Digital Technologies in Emerging Countries

The project will shed light on the impact of technological disruptions on emerging economies to assess and present regulatory solutions.

Accelerated availability of new technologies across the globe, from social media platforms to artificial intelligence, has significant power implications. However, many technology policy debates tend to be Western centric, or focus on the G2 competition between China and the United States. There is a critical need for more, and better informed, conversations about tech policy issues prevalent in developing countries to facilitate greater knowledge production about major regional trends and observations. 

To address this gap, the Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI), in partnership with the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University are launching a new initiative on Digital Technologies in Emerging Countries: Impacts and Responses (DTEC). Led by Francis Fukuyama and Marietje Schaake, the program seeks to examine and share knowledge about the impact of new technologies on countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America by convening scholars and practitioners whose work focuses on these topics. DTEC aims to accomplish this through a series of workshops next year that will lead to the publication of an edited volume in 2023 examining questions related to key tech policy issues in emerging economies such as:

  1. What emerging technologies are most disruptive in emerging economies?
  2. What impact does the disruption have on different communities?
  3. Are new types of repression facilitated by the availability of technologies?
  4. How have new technologies affected popular mobilization and the balances of power between states and societies?
  5. What government responses can be observed?
  6. Have laws been updated or new regulatory institutions been established to protect the rights of citizens?
  7. What, if any, digital dominance and influence from foreign companies and governments can be observed?
  8. What global coalitions on technology governance are forming between like-minded countries?

 

Technology is used for both repression and can help the advancement of people’s rights. Data governance, for better or worse, impacts the security, rights and economic situation for countless people globally. The future of democracy will, in no small part, be decided by people living in developing contexts, even if they are not democratic. 

“I look forward to engaging scholars and other experts from the Global South in our technology policy work at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. New voices and insights from the most impacted communities will add depth to our work on the future of democracy and the impact of technologies on people and their rights.” DTEC will be led by Marietje Schaake, the International Policy Director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center (CPC) and International Policy Fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI)

It will also expand the democracy work at CDDRL led by Francis Fukuyama, who is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), Director of Stanford’s Masters in International Policy Program and Co-Director of the Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI). “While there has been a great deal of attention paid to the impact of new digital technologies on American democracy, there has been much less study of how they have affected developing countries, and the latter's responses to this challenge. The DTEC project seeks to fill in this gap with comparative data and case studies on how emerging countries have sought to deal with this problem,” said Francis Fukuyama.

A strong knowledge base is critical for researchers, policy makers, corporate leaders, civil society actors, and technologists to make decisions that protect and better promote democracy in the digital age across the world. Yet current research on tech policy challenges in developing contexts remains nascent, fragmented and incomplete. Digital Technologies in Emerging Countries: Impacts and Responses will help fill this void.

Questions about this project can be directed to Haifa Badi-Uz-Zaman at .

About the Cyber Policy Center

Working across disciplines, the Cyber Policy Center aims to understand how digital technologies are impacting democracy, security, and geopolitics globally. The center connects academia, the tech industry and civil society with policymakers around the world to address the most pressing policy concerns. 

About the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law 

The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University is an interdisciplinary center for research that seeks to understand how countries can overcome poverty, instability, and abusive rule to become prosperous, just, democratic, and well-governed societies.