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Studies of Internet filtering, network interference, and other technologies and practices that impact freedom of expression online.   

Latest Research

Some Devices Wander by Mistake: Planet Blue Coat Redux

The Citizen Lab is pleased to announce the release of Some Devices Wander by Mistake: Planet Blue Coat Redux. In this report, we use a combination of network measurement and scanning methods and tools to identify instances of Blue Coat ProxySG and PacketShaper devices. This equipment can be used to secure and maintain networks, but can also be used to implement politically-motivated restrictions on access to information, and monitor and record private communications. We found Blue Coat devices on public networks of 83 countries. Included in these countries are regimes with questionable human rights records, and three countries that are subject to US sanctions: Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

Using the China Chats surveillance/censorship keyword list: analyzing blocked terms, search result numbers, and overlaps of censored terms between services

Working with the just-released China Chats keyword list, Jason Q. Ng extended The Citizen Lab/UNM’s analysis by checking whether each of the 4,256 keywords was blocked from searching on Sina Weibo. This report includes further analysis and examination of other potential censorship tactics by Weibo revealed in the data.

China Chats: Tracking surveillance and censorship in TOM-Skype and Sina UC

In this collaborative study between the Citizen Lab and Department of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico we examine the implementation of censorship and surveillance in two IM clients maintained by two different Chinese companies. For a period of more than a year and a half, we downloaded and decrypted the censorship and surveillance keyword lists used by the client software of two IM programs used in China: TOM-Skype and Sina UC.

After the Green Movement: Internet Controls in Iran, 2009-2012

This report details Iran’s increasing Internet controls since 2009, when protests against the victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad rocked the country. The election protest campaign–dubbed the “Green Movement”–was marked for the high use of social media and other information and communication technologies (ICT) to organize protests and disseminate information.

Planet Blue Coat: Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools

Blue Coat Devices capable of filtering, censorship, and surveillance are being used around the world. 61 of these Blue Coat appliances are on public or government networks in countries with a history of concerns over human rights, surveillance, and censorship. Our findings support the need for national and international scrutiny of Blue Coat implementations in the countries we have identified, and a closer look at the global proliferation of “dual-use” information and communication technologies.

The Canadian Connection: One Year Later

This is an update to our November 2011 report titledThe Canadian Connection: An investigation of Syrian government and Hezbullah web hosting in Canada, which examined the use of web servers based in Canada, the U.S., and European countries to host Syrian government websites and websites of the Lebanese political party Hezbullah. Our findings indicate that, while many of the websites we examined in 2011 have changed hosting providers, a number of Syrian government and Hezbullah websites still maintain an online presence through the services of North American and European web hosts.

Update on Information Controls in Ethiopia

Ethiopia remains a dangerous country in which to express dissent online. The recent conviction of a number of bloggers and journalists, combined with the country’s history of filtering critical political content online, demonstrates the restrictive nature of the country’s information environment. This blog post describes recent developments in the country and reports on the results of ONI testing conducted in September 2012.