Data / Original Data

Data Share: When Do States Disconnect Digital Networks? 1985-2011

Here is the original event data set we built for (known) incidents when a government interfered with its information infrastructure for political reasons.  Its now a few years out of date so in sharing it I hope others might be interested in keeping up this line of research.

When do governments decide to interfere with the Internet, and why? We built an event history database of incidents in which a regime went beyond mere surveillance of particular websites or users, and actually disconnected Internet exchange points or blocked significant amounts of certain kinds of traffic. All in all, there were 606 unique incidents involving 99 countries since 1995:  39 percent of the incidents occurred in democracies, 6 percent occurred in emerging democracies, 52 percent occurred in authoritarian regimes, and 3 percent occurred in fragile states. Then we developed three standardized typologies for the kinds of incidents being reported.  First, we developed a category that iteratively helped define the case, and a typology of actions that states take against social media. Second, we developed a category for why they took that action, sometimes relying on third-party reports if the state simply denied any interference.  Finally, we developed a category for the impact of the interference.

This data yielded:

  1. a policy paper Brookings Instite
  2. an academic article for the Communication Review
  3. some media attention (here’s interview in Der Spiegel.)

This data does not have a code book but has a fairly straight forward coding scheme.

Download, Excel Format.

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