The digital divide in the post-Snowden era

ABSTRACT: Edward Snowden’s disclosure of mass surveillance of the internet has necessitated a re-examining of our relationship with the internet. Rather than a tool that broadens democratic engagement, the internet is increasingly used as a tool to manage and direct citizens, particularly via the mass collection of personal data by both the state and large multi-national corporations. Although online tools are available to protect intellectual privacy and ensure individuals can fully engage in the democratic process, they are subject to the same limitations as other aspects of the digital divide in terms of social, economic and cultural capital. Regarding online intellectual privacy, the evidence suggests there are more efforts by the library profession to protect the rights of the individual in the United States, the home of the NSA, than in the United Kingdom. This paper seeks to investigate the state of this aspect of the digital divide and what is being done to address it.

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