Internet, Telecom Sector Liberalization and Civil Liberties in the Middle East and North Africa Region
Title: Internet, Telecom Sector Liberalization and Civil Liberties in the Middle East and North Africa Region
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2005/32; Mediterranean Programme Series
Middle Eastern and North African countries started liberalizing the Internet in the mid 1990’s as a result of the political willingness to develop an economy based on knowledge. The paper suggests that liberalization is playing an important role in changing the level of civil liberties enjoyed by citizens by increasing the quality and quantity of information accessed. In the Middle East it identifies issues such as the abuses of dominance by the incumbent operator in the access market and content control policies to have constrained the Internet’s impact on civil liberties. The paper verifies empirically the relation between Internet diffusion and civil liberties in a sample of 44 countries belonging to three region: South-Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East North Africa. It identifies monopolistic behaviours by state-owned operators and content control policies to mitigate the Internet’s impact on civil liberties. In the Middle East North Africa, telecom sector liberalization has increased significantly since 2003, improving the quantitative and qualitative usage of the Internet. In parallel, the region shows growing interest for providing online administrative and business services. These changes are positively influencing the diffusion and protection of civil liberties.
Type of Access: openAccess