Summer Institute 2016

About | Stream Descriptions | Participants List | Agenda


The Citizen Lab Summer Institute on Monitoring Internet Openness and Rights is a series of intensive research workshops hosted annually at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

The 2016 Citizen Lab Summer Institute (CLSI) will be held at the University of Toronto from July 6 to 8, 2016.

The workshop brings together participants across a range of academic disciplines and practitioner communities for intensive research collaboration on Internet openness, security, and rights.

Research topics include network interference, application privacy and security, targeted digital attacks, government and private sector transparency practices, and country-level information controls.

The goal is to build research partnerships that last beyond the Summer Institute, and to produce outputs as a result of those partnerships. Prior Summer Institutes have led to significant published outputs that have had major policy impacts, including the Smart Sheriff and Great Cannon reports from our 2015 and 2014 Summer Institutes, respectively.


  • July 6: Networking and panel sessions that highlight cutting edge research and open questions for the community, and previewing projects that participants will work on over the next two days.
  • July 7 - 8: Participant-led breakout groups. Groups are designed to be small (8-10 people) to maximize collaboration.

Project Examples

Possible project topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Measuring the prevalence and operation of national-level Internet filtering systems.
  • Examining government policies that affect data privacy, security, and free expression.
  • Analysis of targeted or passive surveillance systems from technical, legal, political, or policy perspectives.
  • Analyzing security and privacy of mobile operating systems and applications.
  • Evaluation or analysis of privacy enhancing technologies.
  • Ethical and legal issues surrounding information controls research.
  • Analyzing the impact of information controls on political, social and economic processes.
  • Examining the roles of public and private actors in advancing, or restricting, information controls.
  • Outlining methodological processes for collecting, or subsequently expressing, data related to information controls or corporate/government surveillance activities.

Stream Descriptions

1. Network Interference and Circumvention

In this track we will work on measuring and circumventing forms of network interference including Internet censorship, throttling, application level censorship, network shutdowns, etc.

Sample topics:
  • Methods and systems for measuring network interference
  • Exploring data sets on Internet censorship (OONI, Satellite, ICLab, etc)
  • Developing software for circumventing Internet censorship

2. Surveillance and Counter Surveillance

In this track we will analyze the technologies, laws, and policies that enable targeted and passive surveillance. This track will also consider technologies and practices for evading surveillance.

Sample topics:
  • Malware analysis
  • IMSI catcher technology and policy
  • Tor and other systems for evading network surveillance

3. App and Device Analysis

In this track we will conduct security and privacy audits of mobile and desktop applications and hardware devices. Analysis can include consideration of technical, legal, and policy questions.

Sample topics:
  • Parental monitoring applications
  • Personal safety wearables
  • Fitness Trackers
  • Chat apps

4. Corporate and Public Transparency

In this track we will develop research methods for documenting corporate and government transparency and discuss advocacy strategies for pushing for greater transparency in these sectors.

Sample topics:
  • Government transparency reports and data
  • Cross jurisdictional analysis of data privacy legislation
  • State of transparency in telecommunications and other industries


View the list of participants and projects.



Day 1 - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Location: Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs - Trinity College Building, 1 Devonshire Place (see map)

11:00-13:00 - Brunch

13:00-13:15 - Welcome (Ron Deibert)

13:15-14:15 - Panel 1 on Network Interference and Circumvention

Moderator: Joss Wright (University of Oxford)
  • Phillipa Gill (Stony Brook University)
  • Will Scott (University of Washington)
  • Arturo Filasto (Tor Project, OONI)
  • Rami Arafat (7iber)
14:15-15:15 - Panel 2 on Surveillance and Counter Surveillance

Moderator: Adam Molnar (Deakin University)
  • Matt Braga (Investigative Journalist)
  • Claudio Guarnieri (Amnesty International / Citizen Lab)
  • Fabian Faessler (Cure53)
  • Kelly Kim (Open Net Korea)
15:15-15:30 - Coffee Break

15:30-16:30 - Panel 3 on Corporate and Public Transparency

Moderator: Chris Prince (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada)
  • Jamael Jacob (Foundation for Media Alternatives)
  • Ming Syuan Ho (Taiwan Internet Transparency Report)
  • Yu Yee Ting (In Media Hong Kong)
  • Peter Micek (Access Now)
16:30-16:45 - Orientation to days 2 and 3 (Masashi Crete-Nishihata)

16:45-18:00 - Dinner


Day 2 - Thursday, July 7, 2016

Location: Library Room, Munk School of Global Affairs - Observatory Building, 315 Bloor Street West (see map)

8:00-10:00 - Breakfast

10:00-10:15 - Breakout group orientation

10:15-12:00 - Breakout groups (various rooms)

12:00-14:00 - Lunch

14:00-17:00 - Breakout groups (various rooms)

17:00-18:00 - Dinner


Day 3 - Friday, July 8, 2016

Location: Library Room, Munk School of Global Affairs - Observatory Building, 315 Bloor Street West (see map)

8:00-10:00 - Breakfast

10:00-10:15 - Breakout group orientation

10:15-12:00 - Breakout groups (various rooms)

12:00-14:00 - Lunch

14:00-16:30 - Breakout groups (various rooms)

16:30-17:00 - Wrap up session

17:00-18:00 - Dinner


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The 2016 Summer Institute is sponsored by the University of Toronto's Connaught Fund, Open Technology Fund, and Mozilla.

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