Lecture: Censored Planet: a Global Censorship Observatory
Six years ago the idea behind CensoredPlanet started, that is now launched at censoredplanet.org. We had a simple (yet essential) guiding principle: measurements that may be politically sensitive should be done without volunteer participation. In this talk, besides a detailed scientific overview of the techniques and the current state of CensoredPlanet, I plan to talk about my experience in developing the project from the ground up.
Despite the pervasive nature of Internet censorship and the continuous evolution of how and where censorship is applied, measurements of censorship remain comparatively sparse. Current censorship projects, including OONI, depend on participants within countries to help them collect measurements. While these projects are valuable, we have empirically seen that there are issues relating to continuity in terms of measurement, coverage of the geographical area, and ethical dilemmas when user participation is a requirement. Censored Planet use tens of thousands of *remote infrastructural and organizational vantage points* from over 170 countries to conduct it’s measurements, thereby removing the need for user participation. This allows us to regularly measure Internet disruptions over a longer period of time in significantly more countries in a safer way.
The research we conduct at Censored Planet provides unique insights and data points on Internet disruptions. This information is extremely valuable to researchers in diverse fields from political science to computer science as well as to activists and journalists living and operating in countries where Internet disruptions are prevalent. By making our data easily accessible to the public, we aim to encourage future research in the field. Link to our data: https://censoredplanet.org/data/raw.