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Digital Authoritarianism

Authoritarian governments leverage digital technologies to repress the rights and freedoms of their citizens at home, silence dissent among diasporas and other individuals beyond their borders, and to interfere in democratic governments, processes and institutions abroad. Left uncontested, the damaging abuse of technologies will further lead to a decline of human rights worldwide. 


Reports and Policy Briefs

 "Digital Authoritarianism: Pathways, Trends, Solutions." Jessica Brandt. Report prepared for the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Published in 2022.

MIGS would like to thank the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa for the support of the Countering Digital Authoritarianism Initiative, which led to the publication of this report.

"Digital Authoritarianism: The Role of Legislation and Regulation". Marie Lamensch, CIGI Policy Brief No. 182, 8 January 2024.

Podcast episodes (selection)

”Surveillance State”: a discussion with WSJ journalists Josh Chin and Liza Lin - Apple Podcast or Spotify

Digital Authoritarianism Report Launch: current and future trends with Jessica Brandt, Brookings - Apple Podcast or Spotify

Internet Shutdowns and #KeepItOn with Felicia Anthonio  - Apple Podcast or Spotify

Discussing Sharp Power with Kevin Sheives and Rachelle Faust - Apple Podcast or Spotify

Digital Authoritarianism with Caitlin Thompson, Coda Story - Apple Podcast or Spotify

Peter Guest on internet shutdown - Apple Podcast or Spotify


Marie Lamensch. "Evolving Surveillance Tech Whets the Authoritarian Impulse to See and Know All". CIGI, 28 August 2024.

Marie Lamensch. "At the UN, Women Lead Efforts to Bridge the Digital Divide", CIGI, 20 April 2023.

Kyle Matthews and Eric Meerkamper. "Confronting the growing digital threat to human rights and democracy"The Toronto Star, 19 December 2022.

Marie Lamensch. "In Iran, Women Deploy Social Media in the Fight for Rights"Centre for International Governance Innovation, 19 Novembre 2022.

Marie Lamensch. "In Brazil, “Techno-Authoritarianism” Rears Its Head"Centre for International Governance Innovation, 19 September, 2022.

Marie Lamensch. "In Saudi Arabia, Digital Repression Has a Uniquely Gendered Aspect"Centre for International Governance Innovation, 17 August, 2022

Marie Lamensch. "In the Former Soviet Bloc, the Democratic Dreams of 1989 Continue to Fade", 20 July, 2022.

Marie Lamensch. “In Latin America, Youthful Branding Meets Authoritarian Populism,” Centre for International Governance Innovation, 21 March, 2022. 

Kyle Matthews and Lauren Salim. “Why Canadians need to take digital disinformation seriously,” The Hill Times, March 29, 2021. 

Kyle Matthews. “Will Canada Finally Take a Stand Against China’s Totalitarian Use of Tech?”, The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, 3 February 2022. 

Marie Lamensch. “Authoritarianism Has Been Reinvented for the Digital Age,” Centre for International Governance Innovation, 9 July 2021.

Marie Lamensch. “The Cost of an Internet Shutdown”, Centre for International Governance Innovation, March 9, 2021. 

Kyle Matthews and George Tsagaroulis. “Why Canada must confront the rise of digital authoritarianism,”, November 18, 2020. 

Virtual Events

Our Countering Digital Authoritarianism Initiative, supported by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, is a speaker series that examines the strategies used by authoritarian states and their impact on populations at home and abroad, and discuss the pressing need for alliances between Canada, the United States, and like-minded democratic countries.

Speakers Series on Digital Authoritarianism

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