Summer Institute 2018


The Citizen Lab Summer Institute on Monitoring Internet Openness and Rights is an annual research workshop hosted at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

The 2018 Citizen Lab Summer Institute will be held at the University of Toronto on June 13-15, 2018

CLSI is a workshop for researchers and practitioners from academia, civil society, and the private sector who are working on Internet openness, security, and rights. The event brings together people with different perspectives from a wide range of backgrounds across technical and social science disciplines. Participants range from established experts to those just entering the area. We started CLSI to demonstrate that a greater understanding of technology and policy can only be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration. Our aim is to help build and support a community that shares this belief.

CLSI is not your average academic workshop. The goal is to form collaborations and work together on projects through intensive participant-led sessions. 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.

Collaborations formed at prior CLSI workshops have led to high impact projects including: analyzing national security and signals intelligence policy in Canada (2017), investigating censorship of the death of Liu Xiaobo on WeChat and Weibo (2017), conducting security audits of child monitoring apps in South Korea (2017, 2016, 2015), documenting Internet filtering in Zambia (2016), and exposing the “Great Cannon” (2014), an attack tool in China used for large scale distributed-denial of service attacks against Github and

2018 Summer Institute Organizing Committee

  • Ron Deibert (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Masashi Crete-Nishihata (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Jakub Dalek (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Ivy Lo (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Sarah McKune (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Christopher Parsons (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Irene Poetranto (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)
  • Adam Senft (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto)


  • Day 1 (half day): Networking session and preview of projects that participants will work on over the next two days.
  • Days 2 and 3 (full days): Participant-led breakout groups. Groups are designed to be small (8-10 people) to maximize collaboration.

Event Program

View the program. (Updated on June 12)

List of Participants

View the list of participants.

Research Streams

CLSI is organized into four general 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?

Examples of projects from previous years:

  • Developing software for measuring and circumventing Internet filtering
  • Exploring data sets on Internet filtering (ICLab, OONI, Satellite, 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?

Examples of projects from previous years:

  • 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?

Examples of projects from previous years:

  • 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? What efforts can be made to significantly improve governmental accountability?

Examples of projects from previous years:

  • 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

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