This is how totalitarian regimes win. They don’t merely imprison all the bloggers and free thinkers in their own country; using new technology, they then reach out and work with major social media giants in the West to ban or reduce criticism anywhere on the platform. They also go online and “report” on users who are critical, banning them either through direct demands to the social media giant, or by employing a group of “trolls” to report the same profiles at the same time. Increasingly, the war is being waged online between various regimes and their armies of “bots” that target users who are critical.

There is almost no pushback by democracies. Governments in the West haven’t understood how this new war is being fought, and they are squandering the opportunity to find out how their own social media giants are increasingly partnering with foreign governments to suppress content.

They aren’t trying to protect the public from this suppression, or creating a “Bill of Rights” for Internet use. Instead, they are plodding along, allowing individuals to be targeted one by one. At every turn we see how new technology has enabled regimes to track dissidents abroad, to use various tools to shut down their access to social media.