An interesting report today examines how authoritarian governments will handle the challenge of satellite internet like Starlink.

Russia’s space chief Dmitry Rogozin, in August of 2020, said that Starlink is “a rather predatory, clever, powerful, high-technology policy of the USA, which uses Shock and Awe in order to advance, before all, their military interests.” Rogozin publicly stated the more humanitarian aspects of Starlink, in that it would provide internet access to people living in remote areas, “nonsense.”

Check It Out: Authoritarian Governments May Not Like Satellite Internet

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

    Andrew:

    Are you implying that Russia is run by an authoritarian?

    Just because Putin has been in power for the past 20 years (he did demote himself for 4 years, 0 days to prime minister while his buddy Medvedev sat behind a mockup presidential desk in the Kremlin annex garage basement – you know – character references), wins landslide elections – every time mind you, shells neighbouring states whilst hosting the Olympics, klepts out assets to his oligarch allies but jails them if they forget their place, invades former territories and annexes their strategic ports, props up a brutal strongman to suppress the Chechens, rescues a Syrian despot who’s a bit down on his luck and about to be overthrown and given the Mussolini send-off, jails, exiles or disappears his political rivals, assassinates dissidents and critics with blunt force trauma, bullets or secured, classified state-crafted chemical weapons at home and abroad (he denies any knowledge or involvement in any of those incidents, by the way – could be anybody who just wants to make him look bad), serially interferes in Western nationstate elections, muzzles the free press (aka the enemy of the people), and hacks the financial, intelligence and defence assets of major foreign powers; just because he does these things doesn’t make him a bad guy, or even necessarily an authoritarian. He’s just trying to hold back the chaos of freedom and make the world safe for autocracy. Give a guy a break! There could even be a Nobel Peace Prize in there somewhere (once he’s annexed Sweden and Norway and put Medvedev in charge of the Swedish Academy of Sciences).

    Elon Musk’s concerns about his satellites being taken out by China, or for that matter, Russia or even North Korea or not unfounded or unreasonable. And although the threat of fines or imprisonment might deter the average citizen, activists, dissidents and political opponents are a different animal altogether, and once organised, can be practically impossible to stop.

    Finally, all sides can play that satellite knockout game. The side most exquisitely dependent on an isolated network to silo their people has the most to lose in that fight, and may want to think long and hard, and possibly have an emergency exit plan in the vault, before executing that threat.

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