We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

‘Firing cannons to kill mosquitoes' : controlling virtual ‘streets’ and the ‘image of the state’ in Bangladesh.

Lacy, Mark and Mookherjee, Nayanika (2020) '‘Firing cannons to kill mosquitoes' : controlling virtual ‘streets’ and the ‘image of the state’ in Bangladesh.', Contributions to Indian sociology., 54 (2). pp. 280-305.


This article examines the historical, social and political legacies of the Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT Act) (2006–2018, amended in 2013) and the Digital Security Act (DSA) (2018–) in the Bangladeshi state’s attempt to control the virtual ‘streets’ of Bangladesh. The application of ICT and DSA has become an increasingly visible and controversial means to provide the spectacle of a state that extends disciplinary power and governmentality into proliferating online spaces—akin to ‘Firing cannons to kill mosquitoes’. We use the lens of Tim Mitchell’s structural-effect (1991, The American Political Science Review 85(1), 77–96) to understand the state beyond the frameworks of its salience or elusiveness, arguing that the criminalisation of online speech has enabled the creation of ‘digital vigilantes’ who are predominantly the powerful, the sycophants, a multitude of attention seekers who are driven by their personal contestations and ambitions. The legal outcomes, however, have been more ambiguous and uncertain—but the effect is to produce fear as an ‘environment’ (Virilio 2012, The Administration of Fear. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press) through frozen/suspended charges with the potential to be redeployed in different contexts.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Lacy, Mark & Mookherjee, Nayanika (2020). ‘Firing cannons to kill mosquitoes' Controlling virtual ‘streets’ and the ‘image of the state’ in Bangladesh. Contributions to Indian Sociology 54(2): 280-305. Copyright © The Author(s). DOI: 10.1177/0069966720917923
Date accepted:21 March 2020
Date deposited:21 April 2020
Date of first online publication:14 May 2020
Date first made open access:12 May 2020

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar