The inability of the Junta to stop information from leaking during the 2007 Burmese Saffron revolution has been used by many as evidence of the intrinsic democratic character of the Internet, and the power of citizen journalism to create dissent. However, the issue becomes increasingly complex when framed in a more comprehensive sociological context. How can we call the Internet inherently democratic when restricted access prevents the vast majority of voices in ‘developing’ nations from being heard and acknowledged? The socio-economic composition of bloggers from Burma is never scrutinized: who were these bloggers and were they the average Burmese citizen? Restrictions and filtration software complicate the discussion of the assumed and inherent democratic dream of the Internet and raise questions about the role of the state. While the Internet may provide a new medium for dissent and opposition, its impact is offset when bloggers represent only a small, particular cross-section of the Burmese population, and by the conscious efforts to censor, limit and monitor user activity through state control. The Burmese Saffron revolution acts as a reminder that the world is not on an equal playing field, and that restrictions, including socio-economic barriers and state intervention, impede democratic visions of the Internet.
"A Burmese Case Study: Far from Inherent – Democracy, and the Internet,"
The McMaster Journal of Communication:
Vol. 7, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/mjc/vol7/iss1/5