The positive effects of communication technology on the developmental process of a nation have been demonstrated in the literature. In this paper, we argue that communication technology may also have an adverse effect, by examining its impact on the presence of conflict. Using Indonesian subdistrict surveys from 2011 and 2014, we find that regions with stronger communication signals are more likely to experience conflict. The econometric estimates show that the presence of a strong base transceiver station (BTS) signal is associated with a 0.8 per cent higher likelihood of local conflict, while a weak signal is associated with a 0.7 per cent higher likelihood of local conflict. A better communication signal is also associated with the number of conflict events. Our findings suggest that the signal reduces conflict casualties. Our estimates also justify the need for government interventions in the form of tax or control policies, to minimise negative, technology-led externalities.
Conflict, Security, and Development. Published online: 15 Nov 2021.