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Title: Policing the Digital Divide: Institutional Gate-keeping & Criminalizing Digital Inclusion
Abstract Previous studies generally assume that barriers to internet access are largely passive. That is, exclusion from the Internet is a consequence of poorly resourced individuals, communities, and institutions. This study complicates that assumption by focusing on the active policing and gatekeeping of internet access. Specifically, we estimate the causal effect of free Wi-Fi at chain restaurants on quality-of-life crime reporting by leveraging a staggered difference-in-differences design which compares geo-located crime reports near chain restaurants in Chicago before and after those restaurants introduced free Wi-Fi. We find that free Wi-Fi led to a substantive and significant increase in quality-of-life policing when restaurants were located in wealthier and Whiter areas, but not in other areas. Our findings suggest that internet access itself may be actively policed by social institutions, in our case, national chain restaurants and the police, to protect access for some at the expense of others.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Communication
Page Range / eLocation ID:
572 to 597
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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