Open Empowerment: Digital Natives, Democracy, and Security in Latin America

Increasingly, "digital natives" -people raised with digital technology-leverage cyberspace to organize and change their worlds. The change they are driving is not always positive, however. This presents new challenges for governing institutions as the lines between legitimate and illegitimate, civil and uncivil action become blurred. The reaction of many governments to cyber-enabled threats has been to securitize cyberspace by imposing censorship, surveillance, and other forms of control. However, restrictions to the openness of cyberspace endanger its capacities to enhance productivity, prosperity, communication, good government, and personal and communal empowerment.

In Latin America cyberspace is often used by transnational criminal gangs and narco-traffickers, posing threats to the state. Here, two-thirds of Internet users are under 25, and of all Internet users, 84% are Facebook users. There are growing possibilities for fraud and cybercrime. Countries such as Brazil and Mexico are already hotbeds for cybercrime worldwide.

Led by the SecDev Group, this research project will examine such issues in Latin America, where the contest between securitization and preservation of openness in cyberspace is driven by criminal activity. Researchers will combine a general panorama of organized crime and cyber-security with in-depth regional cases, producing an edited volume. Their findings are expected to make an important contribution to a number of regional legislative discussions about Internet regulation.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

End Date

Sunday, September 15, 2013


12 months

IDRC Officer

Perini, Fernando

Total funding

CA$ 239,800


Brazil, South America, Colombia, Mexico, North and Central America, El Salvador


Networked Economies

Project Leader

Rafal Rohozinski


SecDev Foundation

Institution Country