It’s clear that Russia and other authoritarian-minded, formerly Soviet states would like to turn out the lights on the Internet. Given their mood, an annual UN gathering, scheduled to be hosted by Azerbaijan in November, could emerge as a pivotal moment for web's future in Eurasia.
Some states in the region, including the meeting's host nation Azerbaijan, have acted aggressively in recent months to inhibit the free flow of information. Governments are especially leery of the ability of social networks to mobilize political opposition. The most recent blow in the campaign to neutralize the Internet was struck by Tajikistan, where authorities announced on July 12 their intention to set up a state body that would monitor the Internet for content seen as disparaging or otherwise hurting the image of the state, or its leaders.
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Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.