Information Controls Fellow
Ram’s OTF Fellowship at the Citizen Lab aims to develop a set of techniques and fingerprints to identify devices performing censorship, and measure their deployment in different countries.
Ram’s OTF Fellowship at the Citizen Lab aims to develop a set of network measurement methods to locate and examine devices performing censorship, and measure their deployment in different countries.
In recent years, censorship and surveillance events have occurred at unprecedented scale, enabled by the proliferation of censorship devices with the ability to inspect large amounts of network traffic and enact fine-grained interference. While censorship technologies have advanced, techniques to identify and monitor them are still limited, and are developed on a case-by-case basis. During his ICFP fellowship, Ram worked on developing methods to identify the network location, manufacturers, and rules and behaviors of censorship devices. Running case studies in four countries--Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia--Ram's work identified that censorship policies are often deployed in networks that are upstream to the user, even sometimes in a different country. Moreover, Ram's work identified many devices manufactured by commercial vendors such as Cisco and Fortinet that are used for censorship, and the project also identified similarities and differences in the behaviors of these devices. The tools developed through this project are fully open source (https://censoredplanet.org/censorship-devices), and can be used to monitor the proliferation of censorship devices in different countries.
In January 2023, Ram was awarded the Internet Research Task Force Applied Networking Research Prize (ANRP), an award focused on recent results in applied networking research and on interesting new research of potential relevance to the Internet standards community. The award focuses on cases where the researchers and their work might not otherwise get heavy exposure. Winners of the award are given the opportunity to present their work with the engineers, network operators, policy makers, and scientists who participate in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF).