HKS Authors

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Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus


The early years of the Internet were marked by a libertarian optimism about its decentralizing and democratizing effects. Information would be widely available and undercut the monopolies of authoritarian governments. Big Brother would be defeated. President Clinton believed that China would liberalize and that Communist Party efforts to control the Internet were like trying to “nail jello to the wall.” The Bush and Obama administrations shared this optimism and promoted an Internet Freedom Agenda that included subsidies and technologies to assist dissidents in authoritarian states to communicate. Today, in the face of successful Chinese control of what citizens can see and say on the Internet and Russian use of the Internet to interfere in the 2016 American election, the United States (and allied democracies) find themselves on the defensive.


Nye, Jr., Joseph S. "Protecting Democracy in an Era of Cyber Information War." February 2019.