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Server-Side Blocking: Characterizing and Measuring Service Provider’s Discrimination

Current efforts to understand nation-state censorship often neglects the existence of server-side blocking, when private companies such as VPN providers, content delivery networks (CDNs) and other server operators, prevent content they host from being accessed by users in certain remote locations. The magnitude of this blocking is unknown, and it is not clear how much this phenomena affects the accuracy of current censorship studies. The project will develop scientifically rigorous measurement methods to detect server-side blocking, build a system to continuously and globally collect data on the phenomenon, curate tools for mapping and comparative analyses of the data and provide the raw data and relevant analysis in a centralized and easily accessible repository. The project outputs will shed light on the traffic manipulation and discrimination of users (i.e., blocking content) using these technologies and services and help censorship measurement better isolate the effects.

Funding to date

2017
$250 000
6 months
Total funding: 
$250 000
Core issues: 
Awareness of access
Current project status
  • Just an Idea (Pre-alpha)
  • It Exists! (Alpha/Beta)
  • It's basically done. (Release)
  • People Use It. (Production)
Regions
Global
We wrote about it
Objectives
Research
Software or hardware development
Beneficiaries
General public
Activists
Journalists
Advocacy groups/NGOs
Academia
Technologists
Addressed problems
Blocking, filtering, or modification of political, social, and/or religious content (including apps)
Policies, laws, or directives that increase surveillance, censorship, and punishment
Technology focus
Web application

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NetBlocks is a modular technology framework for internet governance transparency, enabling real-time detection and monitoring of mass-scale network controls which affect entire regions and populations.