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Can State Surveillance Strengthen Dissent?

Although authoritarian governments have access to a dizzying array of modern surveillance techniques to monitor real and suspected opponents, protest movements continue to thrive in many countries. New research offers insight into why being watched can actually drive people to take to the streets.

TURIN – The increased use of sophisticated surveillance techniques, including digital monitoring, make it harder for dissidents in authoritarian states to evade the authorities’ radar. Thousands of secret police agents in Belarus, China, Russia, and many other countries watch, listen to, and follow opponents and suspected opponents of the regime. According to one estimate, 39% of governments in 2019 used surveillance in partial or full violation of their citizens’ right to privacy.