Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Professor Laura A. Henry


Digital authoritarianism is on the rise around the world and threatens the data privacy and rights of both domestic and international Internet users. However, scholarship on digital authoritarianism remains limited in scope and case study selection. This study contributes a new, more comprehensive analytical framework for the study of Internet governance and applies it to the case studies of China and Russia. Special attention is paid to the still understudied Russian Internet governance model. After thorough literature review and novel data collection and analysis, this paper identifies relative centralization of network infrastructure and the extent and pace of change in governance as the most notable differences between the two models. These points of divergence may be explained by two theories; the varieties of authoritarianism hypothesis posits that different political systems face persistent and unique constraints to governance of the digital realm. The development trajectory theory argues that each country’s technological development path foreshadows the systems’ capacity for and extent of governance. This study is among the first to distinguish between Internet governance strategies of authoritarian regimes.