Citizen Lab Summer Institute 2019 workshop

UPDATE: The 2019 Citizen Lab Summer Institute will take place on July 31-August 2 at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada.

The Citizen Lab Summer Institute (CLSI) provides a unique opportunity to meet a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, and advocates and develop new and exciting research that addresses pressing questions for the Internet.

How to Apply

Please note that the application process is now closed as the deadline to submit a proposal was April 1, 2019.


The 2019 CLSI Agenda is now available.


  • Day 1 (11 AM to 5 PM): Brief orientation to the Summer Institute and a preview of the projects that participants will work on over the next two days. Lunch will be provided and there will be an afternoon reception for all participants to attend.
  • Days 2 and 3 (8 AM to 6 PM): Participant-led breakout groups. Groups are designed to be small (8-10 people) to maximize collaboration. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided.

Research Streams

The Citizen Lab Summer Institute is organized into research streams that become mini workshops within the larger event.

Below are framing questions around these areas and example topics from previous years.

1. Network Interference and Freedom of Expression Online

What are the latest methods and tools for measurement and circumvention of network interference?

How can we best share the data collected from these methods and tools?

What are the impacts of network interference on freedom of expression and other rights?

Session examples:

  • Developing software for measuring and circumventing Internet filtering
  • Exploring data sets on Internet filtering (ICLabOONISatellite, etc.)
  • Documenting censorship on social media, chat apps, and other platforms

2. Surveillance and Counter Surveillance

What are the technologies, laws, and policies that enable targeted and mass surveillance?

What are technologies and practices for preserving privacy and evading surveillance?

How is surveillance affecting civil society?

Session examples:

  • Analyzing politically motivated targeted malware operations
  • IMSI catcher technology and policy
  • Developing privacy enhancing technologies
  • Analyzing stalkerware or other consumer spyware applications

3. Security and Privacy of Apps

What are security and privacy issues in popular applications and devices?

What are the legal and policy regulations around how these apps and devices handle our data?

Session examples:

  • Security and privacy audits of child monitoring applications
  • Security and privacy audits of chat apps

4. Corporate Transparency and Public Accountability

What are corporations’ involvement in disclosing personal information to government agencies?

What efforts have corporations made to be transparent about requests from governments for access to user data or content removals?

How are governments accountable to legislative and judicial bodies, and to citizens more generally, and what are the efforts that can be made to significantly improve governmental accountability?

Session examples:

  • Analyzing national security legislation and writing legal and policy analyses of it
  • Documenting government accountability practices and reports to legislative assemblies
  • Cross jurisdictional analysis of data privacy legislation
  • Evaluating how transparent companies are about their data protection policies and practices

5. Gender and Digital Security

How is gender implicated in surveillance and other forms of technology-facilitated abuse and harassment?

What are the impacts of network interference on the rights of women and LGTBQ minority groups?

How can we integrate aspects of gender and other intersectionalities into digital security research and discussions?

Session examples:

  • Gender and digital security workshop, featuring findings from Citizen Lab’s “Reckless” series of reports and from projects by Citizen Lab Cyber Stewards partners Colnodo and Sula Batsu
  • Mapping actors, practices and excuses used to perform gendered surveillance
  • Strategies for integrating gender awareness in research and intervention for digital rights and freedoms.