Countering High-Tech Illiberalism

Democracies and open societies are under assault by a new breed of high-tech illiberalism. The same digital technologies that connect people and enable a free exchange of ideas are being used to polarize and pervert the politics of democratic societies. As a result, digital technologies once touted as a democratic panacea are being subverted by authoritarians to deepen their grip internally, undermine basic human rights, spread illiberal practices beyond their borders, and erode public trust in open societies. In some instances, authoritarian regimes may even be able to harness advanced technologies to outperform democracies in certain key areas, weakening the case for political freedom in the emergent ideological competition of the 21st century.

The project, supported by a grant from James and Kathryn Murdoch’s Quadrivium Foundation, will build a broad coalition of stakeholders in the United States and in allied and partner nations—including engineers, academics, technologists, current and former policymakers, and practitioners—to develop the policy and technology innovations necessary to secure a freer and more open future.

This Center-wide initiative is composed of the following major lines of effort. Each line of effort will conclude with recommendations to policymakers to develop new tools, technologies, and policies to maintain the upper hand and push back against surging high-tech illiberalism:

Learn more about this initiative by subscribing to our newsletter.

Featured Content:

Asia-Pacific Security

Challenging China’s Bid for App Dominance

Social media platforms are emerging as central to China’s efforts to shape the global information architecture....

Defense

Rising to the China Challenge

The United States and China are locked in strategic competition over the future of the Indo-Pacific—the most populous, dynamic, and consequential region in the world....

Asia-Pacific Security

Why the United States Needs a Digital Development Fund

What the executive branch and Congress can do to counter China’s expanding digital footprint across the developing world....

Asia-Pacific Security

The Autocrat’s New Tool Kit

Chinese authorities are now using the tools of big data to detect departures from “normal” behavior among Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang region—and then to identify each su...

Asia-Pacific Security

The Digital Dictators

Rapid technological change will likely produce a cat-and-mouse dynamic as citizens and governments race to gain the upper hand....

Asia-Pacific Security

Time for Congress to Establish a U.S. Digital Development Fund

As impeachment deliberations roil Washington, Congress will be tempted to look inward and dial back on efforts to address the challenge China poses to American security, prosp...