Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

A photo of people protesting Internet surveillance in Russia.



Internet Freedom in Russia: An Infrastructural Approach
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Important Note

Registration required. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community.  To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events.  Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. 

Please join the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and the Harriman Institute for a conversation with Dr. Mariëlle Wijermars, CORE Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Moderated by Jack Snyder.

Over the past decade, internet freedom in Russia has dramatically declined as a result of the state’s repressive policies and enhanced digital surveillance and censorship capacities. Yet, looking at the Russian state provides only a partial picture and risks obscuring the agency of various domestic and foreign (private) actors in shaping these processes. This talk shifts focus to the implementation and enforcement of restrictive Internet policies in Russia to examine how the actions of, among others, platform companies can enable, shape or constrain how these policies impact internet freedom.

Dr. Mariëlle Wijermars is Assistant Professor in Cyber-Security and Politics. She conducts research on Internet governance with a focus on the impact of Internet policy on human rights, and on the framing of cyberthreats and policy responses. Her research is guided by an interest in the precarious balance between protecting citizens, infrastructures and institutions against cyberthreats and safeguarding rights and freedoms – from the right to privacy to the freedom of the press. Trained as a Russianist, her research draws upon Russia as its main empirical case study. Currently, Mariëlle is also a visiting researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki, where she acts as the Principle Investigator of the project Sustainable Journalism for the Algorithmic Future funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (2020-2022). The project examines the adoption of digital technologies in Russian news media and the role of Russian ‘big tech’ (Yandex) in shaping the Russian information space. She is involved in the Nordic workshop series ‘Algorithmic Governance in Context: Towards a Comparative Agenda for Studies of Algorithmic Governance across Politics, Culture, and Economy’, funded by NOS-HS (2019-2020), and is a member of the Expert Pool on Cyber and Expert Pool on Russia of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE). She is currently on research leave at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies where she serves as a CORE Fellow.