This essay appeared originally in July issue of the Journal of Democracy and is by Daniel O’Maley.

What does the Internet mean for political systems, and for human freedom? During the 1990s and early 2000s, many social scientists equated the Internet’s spread with the supposed triumph of liberal democracy. Today, however, scholars share a much gloomier view of the Internet’s potential to act as a force for liberation. The same networking technologies that bring us convenience and efficiency can also be used to track us and spy on us. Indeed, skepticism about them has increased greatly in the wake of disclosures made by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden regarding that agency’s vast surveillance network and its reliance on willing Internet and telecommunications companies to share data on citizens and noncitizens alike.

O’Maley, Daniel. “The Internet of Things.” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 3 (July 6, 2016): 176–78. doi:10.1353/jod.2016.0042.

Note: This post was originally published on Phil Howard's blog on . It might have been updated since then in its original location. The post gives the views of the author(s), and not necessarily the position of the Oxford Internet Institute.