they need not only access to authority and power but also relationships in information networks that allow them to influence those networks.
In the Arab spring, maps of Twitter influence revealed important “nodes” in information networks. The individuals in question were not gatekeepers to authority and did not have exclusive access to resources, but they were good listeners and understood what kinds of skills could be of use to the communities they were addressing. For example, the activist who helped to overthrow the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia had been active in a distributed network for six or seven years testing different information strategies, including the use of big data tactics and distributed data to demonstrate why the regime was corrupt. A follow-on of WikiLeaks was Tunileaks, which led to a series of stories revealing the extent of Ben Ali’s corruption from the perspective of the US government. These stories validated the claims of the opposition and further drove the conflict.
Governments, whether oppressive or not, can react to technology-enabled peacebuilding through their own use of technology. They may try to control leaks or access to information (as described in the next section). Moreover, oppressive regimes appear to be learning from each other and collaborating in their use of technologies, Sigal noted—techniques used in Syria to conduct surveillance or filtering are almost identical to those used by Iran, and many countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States have very similar filtering systems that appear to be the result of collaboration.
Sigal also observed that countries have collaborated on Internet governance that would treat the Internet as media and therefore subject to state jurisdiction. The model of a “territorialized Internet, one where telecommunication borders and national borders are congruent, is one that is broadly appealing” among countries that seek to control Internet use. The United States and other countries “don’t have a vision for what we want the Internet to be—they do.”
Sigal also described efforts by governments to use economic rather than political means to block Internet use. The government of Kazakhstan, for example, has been able to essentially create a national firewall without declaring one by incentivizing the largest telecommunications company in the country to provide free access to any kind of data, whether file sharing, music, or videos, while people who go outside the network pay for the data they access. “Suddenly going to Google…becomes a decision. Do I want to go to Google, or do I want to go to the one that I can get for free with KazakhTelecom?” While it may be easy to criticize China for erecting